Sweat: don’t sweat it

The Arts Club and the Citadel Theatre are co-producing Sweat by Lynn Nottage.

Anthony Santiago and Marci T. House play Brucie and Cynthia, an estranged couple, in Lynn Nottage’s Sweat. (Photo by David Cooper)

It takes too long for the plot to hit the fan.

Playwright Lynn Nottage has set Sweat in a working-class bar in Reading, Pennsylvania. A local steel-manufacturing plant defines the lives of everybody associated with the place. The central trio of women—Cynthia, Tracey, and Jessie—all work on the factory floor and their mutual friendship spans decades.

There are a few variations in this portrait of the working class. Locked out of his job at another plant, Cynthia’s estranged husband Brucie has hit the skids and is struggling with drug addiction. Their son Chris hopes to become a high school teacher, although few of his friends and mentors can figure out why he would want to work in such a low-paying job. And, when Cynthia, who’s black, gets promoted to management, her white friend Tracey, who also wanted the position, starts to spread the idea that Cynthia only got it because she’s black.

But nothing much happens. Act 1 of Sweat feels like a long, leaden, deliberate meditation on working-class America: job losses fuel the drug epidemic; economic disenfranchisement feeds white racism. [Read more…]

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