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Sweat – Review
In Sweat, writer Lynn Nottage has produced something rarely seen in large scale productions. She plumbs the depths of working class America, charting the struggles and fears of blue collar workers with heart and depth. Sweat is on course for a successful off-Broadway run, combining Nottage’s compelling story with stark, evocative production from director Kate Whoriskey. In a turn away from the usual glitz and glamour of Broadway productions, Sweat focuses on the blunt, unembellished realities of lives on the line. The characters of Sweat are colleagues and firm friends struggling to get by in the face of possible unemployment. The show strikes at something very real and portrays it with poignant accuracy.
Set in a crumbling neighborhood bar in Reading, Pennsylvania, Sweat follows three lifelong friends and colleagues. Tracey, Cynthia, and Jessie work together in the factory line just like three generations of their families before them. While Tracey and Jessie are happy to work on the line and stay their for the rest of their lives, Cynthia is seeking something more. She applies for a job as a supervisor, not recognizing that this potential advance will put her friendships at risk. When layoffs at work, strikes, and picket lines put strain on the women’s closeness, everything that they know and rely on seems to be at stake.
With the bleak but familiar set of the neighborhood bar behind them, the women of Sweat share confidences and fears. Sweat isn’t about romance or fame or extravagant tragedy, but rather the small changes that can chip away at relationships and the horrifying realities of a life lived on the edge of poverty. Above all, Sweat offers a simple authenticity that will capture the audience’s hearts and imaginations from the moment the curtain rises.
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