Review “Sweat” (Goodman Theatre): Don’t Sweat It

Wednesday, April 3, 2019 Permalink 0

Reviewed by Jay Worthington

Goodman Theatre presents SWEAT.

The play Sweat, playing now at the Goodman, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2017. The play portrays a meeting between a parole officer and two ex-convicts, and three women who were childhood friends and had worked in the same factory. 

The action takes place in a fictional bar in Reading, Pennsylvania.  The basic premise here is one I feel we have come to know rather intimately over the last 5-10 years.  The lifeblood of the town is the factory and the factory is undergoing seismic changes as a result of the NAFTA agreement.  Jobs that once paid $30 an hour now offer $15, take it or leave it.  And like any environment where resources are restricted, those living in that environment turn on each other.  Which is my issue with this play.  

The beats of this story are so familiar due to our most recent presidential election and the cottage industry of Rust Belt profiles that attempt to Explain What Happened it bleeds the piece of any dramatic tension. The workers are outraged by the slashed pay but powerless to stop it.  Friends bicker over limited advancement opportunities and feel betrayed when one of their own dares to rise above her station.  Profits are prioritized over people.  The next generation is pushed into compromising life choices that lead to prison.  Scarcity leads to pain.  Which……no kidding?  Is this new?  Do people not know this?  

I wanted a more complex picture from this play, but maybe the sad truth is how simple it is.

Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes with an intermission

At Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn

Written by Lynn Nottage

Directed by Ron OJ Parson

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays at 7:30pm

Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm

Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays at 2pm

EXTENDED Thru April 21st

Buy Tickets 

All Photos by Liz Lauren

For more Chicago theatre information and reviews, please visit Theatre in Chicago

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