Well, those were 38 very intense pages. I can’t imagine what the reaction was to it in 1964. I am looking forward to seeing it next week.
It runs July 26-29.
Given that the play features just two performers, casting has to be key. The back and forth between the white woman (Lula) and the black man (Clay) is taut; Clay’s final speech is absolutely explosive and, despite the gap of over 50 years, remarkably timely.
I can see the pairing with Get Out and, in a different way, The Zoo Story.
I don’t think it ruins anything to read it first. This is one of the stories where knowing the ending just makes the lead up to it more powerful.
When I first heard about this plot, I was skeptical. Two brothers named Lincoln and Booth. Two African-American brothers named Lincoln and Booth. Lincoln gets a job at an amusement park portraying Abraham Lincoln which requires him to wear whiteface and allow tourists to assassinate him. Can you see what I mean? But Parks pulls it off with humor and a claustrophobic intensity. And to imagine Don Cheadle and Jeffrey Wright in the roles. . . well, wow. I’d love to see it.
One of my favorite times of the year comes when theatres announce their shows for the following seasons. It always seems possible to see everything. One I won’t miss is Lynn Nottage’s Sweat. I saw one of her earlier plays, Ruined, and was blown away not only but the play, but the research and interviews that went into creating it.
This play, set in a very different time and place, does overlap with Ruined in one essential way. What, she asks in both plays, will people do when they seem to have very few choices?
The characters who populate the bar that is the setting for this play have to contend with each other, with current events, and with family history. No one gets out unscathed, and I think a Director must have quite a challenge centering the play. Whose story is it? There’s certainly no one without flaws and ulterior motives. It’s one of those plays where you’d like to get inside the heads of any number of characters to find out what they are really thinking.
How did we get here? This play tells us.
Sweat at the Cleveland Playhouse
This one hasn’t lost one bit of its power. War profiteering. A father’s secret cannot stay secret. What boys want their fathers to be. When money isn’t enough. I’ve seen it before. I knew what was coming. I still raced to the end. It breaks your heart. It has to.
ALL MY SONS @ Court Theatre in Chicago until February 18th
I am continuing to wind my way through Arthur Miller’s Collected Plays (Penguin, Miller Centennial Edition). I’ve never seen this one live; it certainly read very quickly. It reminded me of The Crucible in places – an individual’s decision to sacrifice himself for a larger idea. And the individual, as in Miller’s more (most?) famous play is not the expected sort. He’s more of an everyman. There seemed to be a wide array of characters for such a short play, so I wonder if they can be brought to life so quickly. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never seen it. I can’t even remember seeing it produced anywhere. Next is All My Sons.
I have a ticket to see the production at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on Saturday, and I’m pretty excited. I’ve read great things about Ivo Van Hove’s production. I saw the show once before in a production that was designed for a student audience. I enjoyed reading it. Though the language may be dated at times, the conflicts at its core are not. And the accusation that marks the climax of the play both puts one in mind of the HUAC as well as the power of the accusation – so often fueled by social media – today.
I saw a production of it on Broadway with Mark Ruffalo, Tony Shalhoub and Danny DeVito, and it has been kind of haunting me ever since. I wanted to read it, but I could not find a copy of the script by itself, so I finally went in for the collection of his plays produced for the centennial of his birth two years ago. Despite the dated language – we don’t call each other ‘kid’ anymore – it holds up well; it’s complicated. No one is simple or oversimplified. Everyone has a story. The story they are living, the story they tell themselves to keep living. Time passes. Laugh. That’s all.