Sweat returns

Lynn Nottage's play is back on stage but this time it's off West End at affordable prices

Sweat rehearsals

‘SWEAT’ AN emotionally explosive portrayal of the cataclysmic effect of globalisation on a manufacturing community, written by playwright Lynn Nottage is back on stage at the Tower Theatre.

The piece focuses on the struggles engulfing a diverse group of steel workers in Reading, Pennsylvania (‘Rust Belt’), one of the very poorest cities in the USA.

Lay-offs and picket lines tear apart close friendships and family ties in the build-up to the devastating global financial crisis of 2008.

At the heart of Nottage’s excellent drama are the lives and stories of two women, Cynthia and Tracey. Both are working-class Americans – one black, the other white; and the play breaks the mould for social realism by focusing on female friendship to explore the devastating impact of economic catastrophe on deep emotional ties and young people’s hopes. 

Nottage is the only woman to have won two Pulitzer Prizes for drama. The first was awarded in 2009 for Ruined, a play about the use of rape as a weapon of war in the Congo conflict, largely based on Brecht’s Mother Courage. 

The second was for Sweat. The citation read: “A nuanced yet powerful drama that reminds audiences of the stacked deck still facing workers searching for the American dream.” And the critic Jonathan Mandell argued that it was a Grapes of Wrath for our time, telling its story of social breakdown “not with rants or statistics, but through a riveting tale about good people in a bad situation.” 

The director, Ian Hoare, sums up Sweat’s relevance to Britain now: “Many of the same global economic forces lie behind the rise of Trump in the US and the Brexit upheaval here in the UK – and there are strong parallels in the political fallout.

“There could hardly be a better time to do this play: not only have we got Trump running for a second term, the battle for votes in the UK’s general election went to the old industrial towns, and Britain is facing the consequences of the withdrawal from EU membership question and populism.”      

This new production of Sweat is by a fringe theatre, giving fans and the theatre-going public a chance to see it without spending a fortune.

Showing at Tower Theatre in North London, the capital’s busiest non-professional company, from February 26 to March 7, 2020, tickets for Sweat will be £12 in advance or £14 at the door:

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