VOL. 23 - NO. 41
NOV 11 - 18, 2018
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TRAVEL & ENTERTAINMENT: A.C.T.’s Production of “Sweat” Is Both Gripping and Heartfelt

Oct 07, 2018
by Evan Almdale
Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play ‘Sweat,’ currently playing at the American Conservatory Theater (415 Geary St.) in San Francisco, is the heart-wrenching, achingly beautiful story of a close-knit group of factory workers who gather to share their hopes, dreams, trials and tribulations just as their families have done for generations. A bar set in the heart of the Pennsylvania steel country is the central setting for “Sweat,” and it is this watering hole that becomes the gravitational force that exposes its patrons’ contempt – for themselves, for one another, and for a life they cannot escape. In essence, it is a microcosm for a larger world. While the story takes place in Reading, Pa., the story looms larger, as it is really about a larger, beleaguered part of the country in which jobs are under siege.

The play takes place at the edge of the new millennium just when the industry that supported them for decades is about to change forever. Though it takes place in 2000 and 2008, and one of its characters swears he will never vote again, “Sweat” is the first work from a major American playwright to summon, with empathy and without judgment, the nationwide anxiety that helped put Donald J. Trump in the White House. For that reason alone “Sweat,” featuring a feisty nine-member ensemble, warrants serious applause.

“Sweat” offers a true balance of love and hate, as well as the urge to strike out and to comfort. Until the play’s penultimate scene, “Sweat” keeps the nature of its climactic act of violence a secret, and the sense of mystery is underscored by questions posed and unanswered. By the end of the play, I felt a much deeper understanding of what happens to our fellow citizens when the American Dream leaves them behind.

Under the direction of Loretta Greco, the stellar cast brought each character to life with amazing realism and compassion. The sets are beautifully created by Scenic Designer Andrew Boyce. Allen Lee Hughes did a masterful job in creating mood with appropriate lighting.

‘Sweat’ is not an easy play to watch, but it is one that you will not soon forget.

For tickets or more information please phone (415) 749-2228 or visit www.act-sf.org.


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