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Sweat

Members say: Relevant, Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intense
82
Critics
80
87 reviews
Members
83
669 reviews
 

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. 

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'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.'

 

Cast & Creatives (19)



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Reviews (756)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
80
Avg Score

75
The New York Times

"Bracingly topical...Though it is steeped in social combustibility, 'Sweat' often feels too conscientiously assembled, a point-counterpoint presentation in which every disaffected voice is allowed its how-I-got-this-way monologue...'Sweat' is best at its muddiest, when love and hate, and the urges to strike out and to comfort, teeter in precipitous balance. That’s when Ms. Nottage’s characters, and the cast members who embody them, emerge in their full tragic humanity." Full Review

80
Theatermania

"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

85
BroadwayWorld

"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

60
New York Magazine / Vulture

"A worthy attempt to put serious material before a wider public...What it isn’t, I’m sorry to say, is a great play; though improved in some ways, it remains pretty much as I found it downtown: gripping but disappointing...There’s a checklist quality to the dramaturgy that begins to feel obligatory...Great drama takes place in the space between people. The interplay of ideas can of course be a part of that, but only a part. Characters aren’t pundits, and plots aren’t treatises." Full Review

90
Time Out New York

"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

70
Theater Life

"Nottage’s slice-of-lifer is moving and impactful even if the plot is somewhat melodramatic, thanks to Whoriskey’s detailed direction and the cast’s compassionate performances...Nottage’s script feelingly captures the plight of the working class...Yet too much of the action feels like a checklist as topics such as immigration and automation are crossed off...The play probably would have been more powerful if Nottage had not created such an obviously theatrical, tear-jerking finish." Full Review

70
Theatre's Leiter Side

“Significant but unavoidably depressing...Sweat' is...naturalistic drama, its dialogue prosaic and profane...It's more the dramatization of a condition than of an action...The play becomes a sequence of disputes forcing us to accept the barroom as...a crucible of overheated temperament...'Sweat' dramatizes a real national tragedy with careful attention to detail but it breaks no new ground, tells us nothing we didn't already know, and suggests no way out.” Full Review

95
AM New York

"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

90
The Clyde Fitch Report

"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

95
Front Row Center

“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

85
Talkin' Broadway

"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

90
Chicago Tribune

"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

40
Times Square Chronicles

"The cast is excellent with Wilson and Davis standing out. Whoriskey’s direction is ploddingly slow in the first act, but picks up in the second...Though much of this show is believable, who seriously wants to watch this? I don’t mean to sound heartless, because this is a reality for some parts of the country. Sadly we never really get to know the personal relationships of these characters...This may be an important play, but I do not see this drawing an audience." Full Review

80
Deadline

"Ferociously engrossing...'Sweat' never feels less than authentic — and crucial. That said, 'Sweat' still suffers from preachiness and some stilted writing that raise the volume and add exclamation points where none are necessary. This seems to have worsened in the expansion to a Broadway house, where the speechifying too often registers as harangue...These are not inconsequential flaws, but timeliness and Nottage’s uncommon empathy for each of these characters ultimately prevail." Full Review

55
New York Daily News

"The play grabs you with its ripped-from-the-headlines social and political resonance. It also loses its grip due to predictability and a miscalibrated staging...It is not a pretty picture. But it is as straight-up and real as it gets. Too bad performances frequently don’t ring true in director Kate Whoriskey’s staging. Too often actors don't look and sound like people talking, but performers emoting. It becomes distracting and pulls you out of the story." Full Review

85
Showbiz 411

"'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

85
CurtainUp

"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

80
Front Mezz Junkies

"It still packs a wallop, this hard-edged play...What the sure-to-be Tony nominated director Kate Whoriskey has done with Nottage’s words is to not shy away from the horribleness that can surface in all of our collective hearts...Even knowing the final outcome of 'Sweat,' the power and the discomfort is still epically visceral and disconcerting...But the very last scene still feels a bit heavy-handed and the one startling component that remains implausible and manipulative." Full Review

35
Theatre Reviews Limited

"The difficulty with 'Sweat' is that these characters seem to be stock composites of all those the playwright interviewed and they are not all likeable...They are not believable and therefore, their conflicts–as important as those are–seem less than engaging and authentic...Under Kate Whoriskey’s uneven direction, the cast of 'Sweat'–except Mr. Albán and Mr. Colby–deliver flat performances. They are not fully to blame, however: the story line is predictable." Full Review

80
CitiTour

"Meticulously researched and populated with both realistic dialogue and true-to-life characters...A gripping tale of friendships gone wrong and prejudice run amok...Stunningly staged by Whoriskey and enacted by a flawless ensemble...Nottage has a glorious way with language...Her one major dramaturgical flaw here is not just the overwhelming amount of exposition in the play, but how clumsily it sometimes gets handled. But ultimately, Nottage succeeds in her mission." Full Review

90
CitiTour

"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

85
WNBC

"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

85
NY1

“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

60
The Washington Post

"Nottage bottles a flammable brand of white working-class resentment and spills it, in its superheated state, all over the stage. Audiences will readily recognize the vitriol unleashed in Nottage’s timely if too plodding drama...Its best moments anatomize the friendship among three women in the plant. How their camaraderie disintegrates is a far more nuanced bit of storytelling than the standard-issue crime-procedural track that 'Sweat' ultimately shifts onto." Full Review

80
Out Magazine

"Under Kate Whoriskey’s direction, this is pulled off with a lot of energy and surprising humor—the characters don’t seem to have a lot of introspective time—and a game cast gives it extra heft. Best of all are the three lead women as figures in an embattled landscape, navigating through it while trying to survive. Nottage won the Pulitzer for 'Ruined,' and with this, her first Broadway play, she’s achieved something earnest but worthwhile." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
83
Avg Score

74
Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you are interested in a very relevant piece of theatre. This takes place in current America and is related to the current political climate.

Don't see it if you do not like sad shows. The story is very depressing and most characters have very sad fates.

73
Intense, Thought-provoking, Profound, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you are interested in watching well-written characters struggle with problems of an average life

Don't see it if you want to see a production where the characters grow throughout the play; you don't like knowing the ending during the first scene

60
Dizzying, Intelligent, Intense, Resonant, Banal

See it if you identify with small towns or blue-collar work and want to be challenged on conversations on human equality.

Don't see it if you get bored easily

80
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Refreshing, Relevant

See it if you like current dramas or want to learn about the plight of the working -class.

Don't see it if you are looking for a light, happier topic.

81
Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You appreciate topicality and fantastic construction.

Don't see it if You want subtle acting.

Also The play is really quite fantastic; the production, I remain unconvinc... Read more Read less

72
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant, Cliched

See it if you want to see a fascinating look at the plight of blue collar workers in our current world. Great topic.

Don't see it if you require less mechanical plot machinations to move show along. If you don't want to see the look into our messy world and people.

Also I love that a play about this subject matter is on Broadway, but wish ... Read more Read less

75
Relevant, Great writing, Slow

See it if You want to see a sensitive, nuanced portrayal of blue-collar America. You enjoy seeing different perspectives on an issue.

Don't see it if You want something uplifting or fluffy. You get easily tired of yelling used as the primary method of portraying any emotion.

79
Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Cliched

See it if you want to hear why Hillary lost. Not a great play but a very timely one.

Don't see it if the trump election is still painful

Also Hillary should have seen this play a year ago so she would understand ... Read more Read less

77
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you are interested in a modern story examining race and class in today's America/you want to support a female playwright of color

Don't see it if are not okay with non-linear storytelling/need to have all elements of the plot wrapped up nicely

80
Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you enjoy high drama. Intermission allows you to regroup & breathe before the big blow. Bounces around a bit but resolves itself by the end.

Don't see it if you want lite theatre w/o having to think. I don't know about Pulitzer Prize material, but it IS well-written and extremely well-performed.

Also Everyone should see this show. I can see how it would have had a succe... Read more Read less

89
Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Emotional

See it if you like poignant plays about race and the working class. I laughed, cried, got angry and mad all within 2 hrs

Don't see it if you are looking for light hearted escape theatre

75
Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Cliched, Overrated

See it if you're the type who needs to say you've seen the Pulitzer prize winner (FOMO, much?)

Don't see it if you want your theater to go down easy

80
Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you see theatre to understand all types of people

Don't see it if you are looking for a fun show

90
Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great writing

See it if You appreciate outstanding writing and impactful, relevant plays

Don't see it if You don't like topical plays with a serious tone

69
Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if you want to see a sensitive, if heavy-handed, portrayal of blue-collar America; if you're looking for something serious and a downer

Don't see it if you want a lighthearted night; if you want something not didactic; if you want an early night (this felt very long).

60
Relevant, Indulgent, Disappointing

See it if you like a good bout of speechifying.

Don't see it if if you want a play instead of a series of cogent arguments.

Also I can see why it won the Pulitzer. They only have to read the play, no... Read more Read less

80
Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if you want a real-life, gritty play acted perfectly.

Don't see it if you don't like real-life events on stage.

76
Sad, Edgy, Great acting, Intense

See it if you enjoy gritty real life dramas about working class folks, with strong performances and a cool, realistic set.

Don't see it if you're looking for an uplifting experience. This one is pretty darn depressing; no happy endings here.

79
Great acting, Profound, Relevant, Riveting, Entertaining

See it if if you want to see a meaningful play, that is wonderfully acted about a very important topic.

Don't see it if you only like light hearted plays that require no thought.

Also I got my tickets through TDF and was seated in the last row. I couldn'... Read more Read less

90
Absorbing, Great acting, Profound, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You enjoy dramas on timely subjects that leave you thinking when you leave the theater.

Don't see it if You want a feel good kind of story or are looking for something light and cheery. This play will leave you with questions at the end.

91
Great acting, Must see, Resonant, Great writing

See it if you want to see outstanding actors in an engaging story of human dynamics, though a bit long it never drags, one of the best plays I've seen

Don't see it if you are looking for an uplifting story, you need a fully satisfying ending, you are offending by profanity (though never gratuitous).

85
Profound, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you want to expand your horizons beyond the NYC bubble. Real people suffer when their whole life revolves about a town's factory.

Don't see it if you can't identify with others.......

90
Poignant, Well-acted, Thoughtful, Well-staged, Vital

See it if you love dramas that take slices of life (work, family, friendship) often overlooked, magnifying frictions & fissures into cautionary tales.

Don't see it if uncomfortable with moments of racism and violence; you don't want to be mentally-riveted by solid story-writing; need spectacle and music.

Also It’s appropriate that I saw Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play... Read more Read less

80
Funny, Absorbing, Ambitious, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if In the mood for a thought provoking play. About family, politics and race.

Don't see it if If you lean toward a conservative narrative.

84
Absorbing, Intense, Great writing

See it if You find intense dramatic plays enjoyable, especially when they culminate in scenes of violence, and explore the aftermath of that violence.

Don't see it if You dislike violence and profanity. Not light entertainment. The hopeless prospects of the working class characters can be depressing.