SWEAT presented by Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati through Oct. 9. I attended the opening night performance.
It is not very often I leave a theatre as energized as I did last night’s opening at ETC. SWEAT is simply damn good theatre.
The foundation is the excellent, Pulitzer prize-winning script by Lynn Nottage (Intimate Apparel and Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine), giving face and voice to the blue-collar workers impacted by America’s economic decline.
The characters are believable, easily relatable, and played brilliantly by the near-perfect ensemble. While the dialogue is very conversational, the performances and pacing easily draw you into the story. Director Darnell Pierre Benjamin takes full advantage of his cast and set, expertly using both to bring this story to the stage.
The set is amazing and so realistic looking that you believe you in a bar, allowing the audience to effortlessly be transported into the story. Excellent work by Brian c. Mehring (set and lighting designer), Shannon Rae Lutz (properties curator/design assistant), and Rae Kuhn (scenic charge/production assistant). The costumes by Jerrilyn Lanier Duckworth are well-suited to the characters and the time period.
I do want to circle back around and again praise the cast as a whole (Burgess C. Byrd as Cynthia, Ollie Corchado as Oscar, Charlie Cromer as Jason, Denise Dal Vera as Jessie, Mierka Girten as Tracey, Allen R. Middleton as Stan, “ranney” as Brucie, Derek Snow as Evan & Jay Wade as Chris). There are so many little moments by and between the characters that make SWEAT such a rich experience.
Overall, ETC’s production of SWEAT needs to be seen and will easily stand as one of the best productions of the 2022-2023 season.
My rating: 5.0 out of 5.
Click here for more information on the production.