Here are three good reasons to see Ensemble’s Season Opener
The script. It’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Lynn Nottage, highlighting the struggle of blue-collar workers in Reading, PA. It’s a well-researched, realistic look at the genuine economic struggle, and there is enough humor scattered throughout to make sure it’s not a total bummer.
The performances. Some of the acting in “Sweat” is world-class. “Ranney” (Brucie) commands the stage whenever he’s present, with his charisma, natural charm, and professional presence. Mierka “Mookie” Girten, a Chicago-based actress, is mesmerizing as the tough-as-nails “Tracey.” We all know someone like her, and we are probably a little scared of her. Allen R. Middleton doesn’t get enough stage time in Cincinnati, so it was wonderful to see him on the ETC boards – and he makes the most of his important scenes. Denise Del Vera doesn’t have enough to do as “Jessie,” but she mines every ounce of comedy gold from her drunken scenes. I enjoyed Ollie Corchado’s subtle work as “Oscar.” Jay Wade is easy to like as “Chris,” but it’s his “mother,” Burgess Byrd, who perhaps gives her most understated and best performance ever as “Cynthia.” As a woman torn between two worlds, she dials down the bombastic and lives inside this conflicted woman with authenticity.
The set. Ensemble’s Brian c. Mehring is known for his stunning set design, and this is no exception. It feels like a real bar – including a working beer tap!
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“Sweat” runs at Ensemble Theatre through October 9. Tickets and more information can be found here.