April 3, 2017
By Dr. Leonard H. Golubchick LaborPress Entertainment Editor
Sweat an Absorbing Play
“Sweat” is written by Lynn Notage who is an African-American Pulitzer Prize winner for “Ruined”. Straight from the Public Theatre this is a timely play given the attacks on unions by the Trump administration and the issue of outsourcing work which impacts negatively on American Workers. The play goes back and forth from 2002-2008.
“Sweat” is a compelling story of a manufacturing plant in Reading Pennsylvania which faces Union Labor problems. The owners lay off existing workers and hire as the show points out “scabs” whom are willing to work at a much lower rate. The owners are also moving out factory equipment for outsourcing the products. This is a disaster for the town and for second and third generation families who have been employed by the plant in circa 2002. By 2008 the town is devastated, the workers thrown into poverty without a job or healthcare, and two of the workers have just been released from jail. The two protagonists in 2002 blame a Latin American immigrant and others like him, for taking their jobs. As a result they lash out at an immigrant and accidently severely injure the bartender who has sustained an injury while working at the plant.
The Director Kate Whoriskey provides the platform for the excellent ensemble cast to engender meaning to a dark drama. Interspersed with humor, Ms. Whoriskey enables the cast to shine and bring humanity to the characters.
Overall, this is an absorbing play which gives insight to the lives of folks living in the rust belt. I do think the production could have been trimmed to one act and would not have missed its sublime message. Certainly due to profanity I would not recommend bringing children.
If you want to witness the impact of the occurrence a plant jettison of union workers and creating the atmosphere of despair when union workers are thrown out of work which created a rust belt city as well of projecting anti-immigrant attitudes then you will find this play of great interest.