What I saw: “Sweat,” a play, at the theater known as Studio 54, on West 54th Street in Manhattan.
What I did beforehand: PT on my right knee which I found out this week hurts not because of a ligament tear (hooray!), but because of arthritis (boo!). I was happy about this for perhaps 12 hours, until I realized it meant that instead of surgeryI was facing some amount of knee pain for the rest of my life, which I would get to manage henceforward. Then I went and got my hair cut.
What I wore: plaid wool dress, ripped tights and Fluevog boots.
Who went with me: B., a friend of my parents, who I’ve known since I was a kid, and haven’t seen since 2004.
How I got tickets: online as soon as the new venue was announced after missing the chance to see this show’s sold-out run at The Public Theater.
Why I saw this show: rave reviews.
Where I sat: Row A, on the end, with no one in front of us.
Things that were sad: this perfectly paced play is about the destruction of working class lives thanks to the relentless forces of unchecked American capitalism.
Things that were funny: it is not a funny play, but it is not without humor.
Things that were not funny: the venue shows evidence of having been painted, as if current management accepts that audiences look askance at obvious shabbiness, but it’s like someone’s brother-in-law got them a really good deal on many gallons matte black paint and the paint was applied by people who’d never painted before, and as quickly as possible. Crumbling theater venues can do shabby gloriously, like BAM’s facilities. Studio 54 looks like the party ended in 1980, and they just woke up and swept a little.
Something I ate: confetti eggplant and filleted whole durade, part of a really fine and fun meal sitting at the bar of Taboon, on 52nd and 10th Ave. When you go, make a reservation. Share the entrees and order lots of meze plates.
What it is: a big (and by this I also mean important), serious play with a strong ensemble cast. If this was not the best play I’ve seen in the last year, it was certainly in the top five. Tackling issues of economic uncertainty and race relations in America with fully fleshed-out characters and meaningful stakes, “Sweat” engages on all the levels the talking heads on TV don’t.
Who should see it: line workers, strugglers, bartenders, union members, strike breakers, white supremacists, people who’ve done time, conservatives, drunks, survivors, managers, liberals, know-it-alls.
What I saw on the way home: the dark Saw Mill River Parkway, built with bridges too low for buses, so only passenger cars could use it and specifically buses could not, stretched out before me in a familiar blur. This road is like everything we’ve ever done in America.