Since previews opened on March 4th, Studio 54 has been home to Sweat. Previously staged at the Oregon Shakespeare Theatre as well as the off-Broadway Public Theatre, this show was recently granted the Pulitzer Prize for theatre. Lynn Nottage, the show’s conceiver, is the first woman to receive the award twice in a lifetime. The show focuses on the working class in the United States “whose anxiety helped put Donald J. Trump in the White house” (New York Times, March 26th).
The show features a diverse cast of nine ensemble members. They play steel mill workers in Reading, Pennsylvania during the George W. Bush presidency. These workers have been friends all their lives and have continued to spend their time together working in the steel factory. However, changed in the workplace cause them to pit against each other. Differences in race, creed, and gender start to pull them apart as there looms a secret, violent end that is sure to shock audiences.
New York Times critic, Ben Brantley, was hard on the piece in his opening night review saying that the play is overly expository, but he still seemed to really enjoy the show saying that it “warrants serious applause” as well as the “belated Broadway debut of Ms. Nottage, a justly acclaimed dramatist of ambitious scope and fierce focus” (New York Times, March 26th). He also commented on the reality in the characters that Nottage achieves in her writing: