Don Reviews "Sweat"
A lot of stage productions that we see have elaborate stage setups that feature a number of different scenes in order to tell huge, over-the-top stories with a lot of characters on a grand level. With “Sweat,” currently playing at Dallas’ Kalita Humphreys Theatre through February 10th, this is scaled down to three locales to tell a very interesting story.
Written by Lynn Nottage, the story centers on a bar in Reading, Pennsylvania as its story is told in a flashback from 2008 to 2000 after two young men, Chris (Ace Anderson) and Jason (Kyle Igneczi) have been released from prison after a horrible incident that took place revolving around a local steel factory and the people who work there: Jessie (Barbra Wengerd), Cynthia (Liz Mikel), and Tracey (Sally Nystuen Vahle). Each of them have their own stories that have brought them together as long time employees of the plant, and when Tracey is promoted at the same time that the 2000 recession hits, their friendships and livelihoods are tested on each and every level.
The fact that there are only three sets (the bar, outside the bar’s door, and the cement walls that represent a couple of different scenes) all set on a turntable was done very well. I was very impressed with the bar set itself, whose detail and handiwork reminded me of a set from a big Hollywood film or television set, and the transitions were all done very well, especially with the way the lighting was done to keep the right tones at the right times. The cast here is also very good, and since there is no real lead, this ensemble all pulls their weight in a way that reminded me of a much more serious version of “Cheers”. The shout-out I do want to give goes to Jon Shaver, who plays the former plant employee turned bartender, Stan. He understands how Stan has to be equal parts referee, therapist, and friend, and I truly like how he did all three with a laid back type of guy who still does not take any lip from anyone.
Not counting the intermission, this show runs about two hours, which seemed a bit long for me. It takes a long time to get to all of the reveals, but there is a payoff that works well. All of the characters are written well to give the actors a lot of great stuff to work with, and I truly did like that. Even though this is a bit long, I will still recommend “Sweat” as center section halfway back seating.