Sunday, December 2, 2018

310 Sweat-Pittsburgh Public Theater-Riveting, Powerful, so Real

Sweat is a 2017 Pulitzer Prize winning play about the struggles of the Olstead’s Steel Tubing workers in Reading, Pennsylvania. This play dives into the lives of close friends from 2000 to 2008 as they face the consequences of a changing economy. It’s a powerful story on how our livelihood is the thread that holds together identities, relationships and survival. Sweat is a riveting experience that exposes what happens when that thread is cut.    

This drama opens a realistic window into the lives of seven hardworking middle class steel workers. The play begins at the local bar where three long time girlfriends, Tracy (Amy Landis), Cythia (Tracey Conyer Lee) and Jessie (Michelle Duffy) congregate following  their shifts on the plant line.  This is the meeting place where they, and the others, laugh, unwind, celebrate and share dreams. The dialogue is honest and sometimes raw as the play intimately plunges into their lives.  

Kevin Mambo (Brucie) and Tracey Conyer Lee (Cythia)
 Everyone has a connection with Olstead’s Steel Tubing. Cythia’s and Tracy’s sons, Chris (Ananias J. Dixon) and Jason (Patrick Cannon), are part of  the multiple generations of plant workers. It is their expected life path.  The steel plant binds the residents of Reading and later tears them apart.   

Sweat is historical. The music emanating from the jukebox and the news feed from the bar televisions give  authentic  flash backs of the time and events leading to America’s de-industrialization . The play moves years forward when outsourcing of work and rumors of plant layoffs begin.   These events lead to fear that replaces the characters' anticipated security in working hard, saving some money, and enjoying a retirement with a pension.

Patrick Cannon (Jason)  and Ananias J. Dixon(Chris) 
The strength of this play is the potency of the characters that are superbly acted.  Their lives are tangible and so real: Tracey's and Cynthia's long-standing friendship deteriorates when Cynthia is promoted to management; Cynthia and her son, Chris, struggle with their love/hate relationship with  ex-husband/father, Brucie’s (Kevin Mambo) drug dependence; Jessie  gravitates to the bottle after the dissolution of her marriage; and  Jason feels abandoned when his childhood friend, Chris, desires to leave the production line and pursue college.  

As Ananias Dixon (Chris) explained, “this is a play where the entire cast have equally strong parts. Everyone has a moment”. Everyone did have a moment as I laughed, cried and gasped at the compelling ending.

Patrick Cannon (Jason) back home to Pgh

This Pittsburgh Public Theater production is one not to miss. Sweat gives a voice to the communities that unraveled during the de-industrialization of the early 2000’s. Although still relevant today, Sweat gives a riveting intimate glimpse into the world of human fear and desperation when your livelihood and "all that you know" evaporates.

(This powerful drama, runs from  Nov 8 through Dec 9th at the O’Rielly Theater. For tickets and more on the PPT season go to )

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