After a successful run at the Public Theater last fall, Lynn Nottage's drama about the collision of race, class, family, and friendship in Reading, PA transfers to Broadway. More…
'Sweat' tells the story of a group of friends who have spent their lives sharing drinks, secrets, and laughs while working together on the line of a factory floor. But when layoffs and picket lines begin to chip away at their trust, the friends find themselves pitted against each other in the hard fight to stay afloat. 'Sweat' delves into the tragic, unintended costs of community without opportunity. Written by Lynn Nottage, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of 'Ruined.'
"Lynn Nottage’s timely, empathetic and critical-minded drama...An involving drama, calibrated to increase in intensity toward its brutal climax. Nottage explores her characters and their environment with the sensitivity of a master dramatist and the objectivity of a journalist...Kate Whoriskey’s finely textured production is a triumph of ensemble acting. Johanna Day is particularly effective in expressing her character’s shock, frustration and self-centered ego." Full Review
“Few great American plays take place in a bar. Nottage’s heart-wrenching 'Sweat' may well be the best one since O’Neill’s 'The Iceman Cometh'...As tightly operating an ensemble as you are ever likely to see on Broadway…Whoriskey directs with a sure hand, with minor flourishes...and major accomplishments like keeping the pacing of inevitable doom at a compelling slow bleed. This, along with Beatty’s perfectly wrought set featuring functioning beer taps, leave us thirsting for more.” Full Review
“Directed with the utmost care by Kate Whoriskey and acted by the finest ensemble you’re likely to see this season…They may not sound like fascinating characters, but how real they are, and what exquisite detail Nottage has invested in them. The small talk’s true and funny…It’s an old-fashioned great American play, one that zeros in on a single community to make larger statements about who we are, what this country values, and the price it pays for it." Full Review
“From the dead-on realism of a neighborhood bar, designed to perfection by John Lee Beatty, to the heightened and naturalistic staging of director Kate Whoriskey, everything about ‘Sweat’ is geared to pull you in to its grip with a vise-like strength, and then not let go. This is a violent and powerful drama by Lynn Nottage that has transferred from New York's Public Theater to Broadway with all of its emotionally heavy-hitting impact intact.” Full Review
"Even though I was fully aware of its gut-wrenching conclusion this second time, I still shed a tear when it arrived. 'Sweat' should be required viewing for anyone living in our republic – it is that important...What Nottage has constructed is an American play for the ages, a tragedy of the American dream that would be appreciated by the likes of Arthur Miller and Clifford Odets...Simply see it." Full Review
“Worthy of all the considerable hype. Gritty, unapologetic, and never timid, the play examines the troubled lives of its blue-collar characters with stunningly compassionate introspection. Part of the play’s power comes from Nottage diving deep into a familiar and well-worn story line and bringing her masterful eye to it…The cast is universally strong…There is perhaps no better contemporary playwright at combing the rich nexus of history and humanity than Lynn Nottage.” Full Review
"'Sweat' has a political message to impart, and it does so with conviction and a style teeming with grittiness and breathtaking poetry...It serves its characters with dignity and insight, and wears the mantle of metaphor for an economically challenged and increasingly inhumane nation with power and grace...It is also a triumph of compassion and furious truth. As directed by the great Kate Whoriskey, 'Sweat' boasts the very definition of ensemble acting...A profound and prophetic work." Full Review
"Nottage’s passionate and necessary drama is a masterful depiction of the forces that divide and conquer us...Director Kate Whoriskey’s fluid and propulsive staging benefits from an excellent cast led by the fearless triad of Johanna Day, Michelle Wilson and Alison Wright...'Sweat' communicates its points with minimal fuss and maximum grit. Along with the rage, despair and violence, there's humor and abundant humanity." Full Review
"No play on Broadway addresses the political climate more immediately than 'Sweat'....Other productions this season have had superlative ensembles, but none is more prominent than this one. The details, small and large, filled in by each cast member are heart-throbbing. So much of this creativity in performance, of course, has to be attributed to director Kate Whoriskey...'Sweat' is a first-rate achievement." Full Review
"Inarguably a schematic socialist drama that clearly decided in advance what it wanted to say about the state of the nation. Its conclusion is not a surprise. But—and, along with a mordant wit, this is its mitigating strength and greatest asset—'Sweat' also is a moral, passionate and richly articulated cri de coeur from one of America's leading African-American playwrights...'Sweat,' which is performed with relentless commitment and respect, feels very much of the moment." Full Review
“As powerful and searing at Studio 54 as it was last year at the Public Theater…All of the actors give strong performances, but Johanna Day stands out…The play gets right to the heart of what has been happening in the United States…A fierce and fiery work with plenty of heart and soul, a brilliant microcosm of a deeply divided nation where hardworking people have to live with choices no one should be forced to make.” Full Review
"The timeliest and most dynamic play to hit Broadway this season...Nottage and Whoriskey, ensure that these flawed characters have depth and integrity...Whoriskey’s production pulses with tension, especially as it reaches its powerful climax. The outstanding cast shift smoothly from frivolity to fury. In the end 'Sweat' emphasizes the importance of looking out for each other when times are hard, and of the harsh consequences when rage gets the better of us." Full Review
"Nottage has written authentic characters who struggle with challenges and face consequences that cause their lives to spiral out of control...Johanna Day and Michelle Wilson shine in these brilliantly written, juxtaposed characters...They are the driving force that propels the action of the play. Their portrayals are riveting, true, and genuine...Kate Whoriskey masterfully directed this superb ensemble cast. She skillfully builds tensions that explode with powerful human emotions." Full Review
"A tense and finely acted production...Day and Wilson do excellent work playing the subtext of racial tension...While the decline of American communities when jobs are sent to other countries is a familiar subject, Nottage's even-handed treatment of multiple viewpoints, giving sympathy to all sides, makes 'Sweat' a truly realistic and moving tragedy that, sadly, has gained relevance on its way to Broadway." Full Review
"The play is more relevant and timely than ever...The transfer overall is just fine with the entire team back on board (with just one new cast member)...The actors are better than ever...I still find the play's structure and conflicts too schematic and familiar to really tap into my deepest emotions until late in the second act. However, this seemed less important this time around...'Sweat' is now a worthy heir to Arthur Miller's American Dream destroying 'Death of a Salesman.'" Full Review
“A prescient study of an American dream gone belly up…How they each interact is portrayed in finely nuanced detail not only in dialogue but through performance and Kate Whoriskey’s sensitive and solid direction. This is a well-honed ensemble…The performers, all but one, reprising their roles from the Off-Broadway production, are excellent...If it seems overly ambitious, it is nonetheless a powerful chronicle of a modern day tragedy." Full Review
"Nottage has not done a lot of complex narrative crafting here. But what she has done is strong and smart, and addresses the many simmering tensions on which the play is constructed...Nottage does not shy from exploring, occasionally in brutal fashion, how America's ever-evolving work life changes the souls of those who are subjected to it. 'Sweat' ultimately feels real because the people in it who are sweating feel real...Whoriskey's staging is fluid, sharp, and honest." Full Review
"An excellent, highly charged play...It is refreshing to hear characters talk about politics as urgently, and realistically, as people are affected by it. 'Sweat' is politics as lived and spoken about on the ground, not as an abstraction. 'Sweat' is the first, properly muscular play of the Trump era, directly addressing the political and cultural bedrock of his presidency...The politics of the play, while clear and emphatic, do not supersede the careful drawing of character." Full Review
"With authority and a solid nine-person ensemble, Nottage finely crafts the disintegration of opportunities, friendships and families swept up in whirlpools of disappointment and a cycle of drugs, violence and poverty...With a sure hand, director Kate Whoriskey leads this well-cast ensemble in a relentless parade from hard days and close community to collapse...'Sweat' is a memorable play for our times, about our times and our people." Full Review
"Director Kate Whoriskey and Nottage have partnered before, and it shows. Words and actions move in lockstep. Everything seems organic. Whoriskey’s assembled a crackerjack cast, and they deliver bigtime. You never doubt these Pennsylvanians have worked together, played together, and bent many an elbow together. Touching and troubling, 'Sweat' is a powerful potion that candidly explores a piece of the American dream no longer worth dreaming." Full Review
"'Sweat' gives poignant voice to a disenfranchised microcosm of the American heartland, as if Michael Moore’s Flint, Michigan had taken center stage. A fine ensemble is featured under Kate Whoriskey’s expert direction." Full Review
"Nottage eloquently captures the malaise among a group of longtime coworkers at a Berks County, Pennsylvania, mill...'Sweat' should be hailed for its visceral performance by Johanna Day...'Sweat' positively smokes through its two-hour-plus run...Nottage obviously hit on something vital in her research—with 20/20 hindsight. 'Sweat' gives off a tangible vibe, and if some better understood the issues raised by this play before the election, they wouldn’t have been surprised by the outcome." Full Review
"As current as the headlines on CNN...Whoriskey has assembled a splendid cast of actors, led by Day as the terminally inflamed Tracey and Wilson as the more pragmatic Cynthia...The playwright is admirably sensitive to working-class rationalizations and frustrations. In addition to her dramatic flair, Nottage should be congratulated for reminding us that theater can be more effective than newsprint and television commentary when it comes to addressing contemporary political conflicts." Full Review
"A compelling new play...'Sweat' is a fascinating study of class and opportunity, or lack thereof...'Sweat' features a truly remarkable ensemble and it’s a struggle to take your eyes off any one of its layered characters. Far timelier now than when it debuted at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival back in 2015, 'Sweat' offers a heartbreaking glimpse into the domino effect of what happens when life as you know it is pulled out from under you." Full Review
"All of the performances feel bigger, suggesting that director Kate Whoriskey has instructed her cast to play to the back row of this much larger Broadway house. Unfortunately, results vary...Even though some of the performances have gone astray, 'Sweat' is still the must-see play of the season. Nottage employs her ample intelligence and compassion in telling the story of why so many Americans feel frustrated and frightened." Full Review
See it if you think a politically relevant drama set in Trump's America is something you could sink your teeth into.
Don't see it if three hours of small-town, blue-collar grit and gristle wouldn't be to your taste.
See it if you want to see a riveting, perfectly written play about blue collar Americans struggling with harsh economic realities and life in general.
Don't see it if you dislike plays with harsh language, (latent) racism, drug use, and/or theater that makes you think. This play is heavy, but so relevant.
See it if A powerful work. Friendship. Class aspiration. Betrayal. Her best so far. Ans a sequel coming which is a comedy!
Don't see it if It has powerful argueents and violence. A non-linear plotline.
See it if You want to know how we all got Trumped and what is at stake: nothing less than liberty and justice for all. Profound and tragic.
Don't see it if You are a mindless consumer or a follower of Ayn Rand. You are afraid to think and feel at the same time. You hate crying at plays.
See it if you like absorbing topical drama with deep characters with lots to say, that hit you in the chest and head, literally.
Don't see it if you don't like dramas that keep you on the edge of your seat and make you think and feel.
See it if very touching, powerful and relevant contemporary story - beautifully written, nicely staged, great acting
Don't see it if not a lighthearted topic; uncomfortable - in a good way
See it if Fantastic book, incredibly relevant, doesn't pull any punches. The acting performances are among the best in a play on Broadway today.
Don't see it if You dislike political pieces.
See it if You want to have a great theater experience. Great acting and important story for our times. engrossing. Terrific production all around.
Don't see it if Don't like serious drama about blue collar workers and the struggles they face with employment and getting through life
See it if you enjoy masterfully written plays full of remarkably detailed characterizations and a gut punching sense of reality.
Don't see it if you want to sit back and be dazzled by spectacle or dislike being challenged.
See it if you like realistic plays. It's not my favorite by Lynn Nottage, but it is very honest and good.
Don't see it if you want extravagance. It's a show about working class people. No formal gowns will be found here.
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