Sweat by Lynn Nottage—well, not the play but the playwright—came highly recommended, so I got a ticket. The Goodman production was solid; though standard fare for a company that takes no chances and gives up no surprises. Like Twilight Bowl immediately before it at the Goodman, it felt like a typical bar play. Not my favorite genre, I’d rather see Cheers.
Ron O.J. Parson, the Chicago director-of-choice for the seasonal “black play” at theaters across Chicagoland, did a workmanlike job: too much side-business (characters wiping tables or playing solitaire at the bar) didn’t distract so much as reveal a desperation toward verisimilitude. But it was hard to endorse any of the protagonists.
The finale was moving, a cut above much triteness that went before, but the play never lived up to its title, which the action didn’t support. It was marketing an idea (or even an idealized version) of blue-collar work. Having worked in a few factories in my younger days, I could poke holes where the verisimilitude failed; but the play was well-intentioned.