Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sweat—Profile Theatre—SE Portland

          “Best Laid Plans…”

    This award-winning drama is written by Lynn Nottage and directed by Christopher Acebo.  It is playing at the Imago space, 17 SE 8th Ave. (parking is a challenge in this area, so plan your time accordingly), through February 2nd.  For more information, go to their site at

    The moment you are born, you begin to die…so best make the most of the in-between time.  The Young usually don’t realize this dilemma, as the early years are spent in frivolity…using the imagination…learning social skills (of course nowadays, most of that time is preempted by doing worship to the electronic gods of Social Media, which rule their lives).  But there was a time, not so long ago, when one had dreams of seeing the world, meeting all sorts of interesting people and just enjoying life on your own terms.

    But then reality raised its ugly head and you realized you had to actually get a job to earn all the benefits of your dreams…and that’s where things can begin to go sour.  The working at a futureless job just for a while, turns into your Life, as you race to just pay the bills.  And, as you age, you realize Time and your Dreams are passing you by.  What to do…what to do…!?

    In the case of this small, industrial town in PA, one works at the Factory or Plant, where generations of your family worked…and so a Tradition has been maintained, like a rat in a maze, with no way out.  The Grieving Place for lost dreams here, is the local bar, managed by Stan (Duffy Epstein), a former employee of the said Plant, until an accident rendered him disabled and, with him at the bar, his faithful companion, Oscar (Chris Ramirez), of Columbian extract, looking for that same yellow-brick road that everyone else is seeking.

    Into this haven for lost souls, comes Tracey (Linda Hayden), a rather disillusioned lady, looking for the golden ticket for her passage out.  Her son is rather a shiftless individual, Jason (Jim Vadala), whose only dream seems to be his motorcycle.  Jessie (Alissa Jessup), her friend, is slowly sinking into alcoholism.  Another friend, Cynthia (Cycerli Ash), has grander ambitions, of being a supervisor someday.  Her son, Chris (La’Tevin Alexander) is cut from the same cloth as Mom, as he has dreams of college.  But the stone around their necks seems to be Brucie (Victor Mack), the drunkard father/husband of this clan.  And trying to piece it all together is the town counselor, Evan (Bobby Bermea), who tries to pick up the pieces of these broken folks.  To see their stories and how they work out, see the play…it’s powerful!

    This has one of the best ensembles I’ve seen, as each of the characters have very rich and complex lives, as portrayed by this exceptional cast, which Acebo has assembled.  He is a master at digging into these roles with his cast and creating, with his designer, Peter Ksander, an amazingly realistic playground to let them explore.  You feel you could actually walk into that setting and go back in time to another era and place, it’s that realistic.

    Everyone of the cast is worth bragging about, and I’ve seen many of them before onstage (even acted with one, back in the day).  Ash is a powerhouse, as you see her evolve, unwillingly at times, from a semi-happy place, to despair, then settling on…reality.  Mack is excellent as the old sot with demons too powerful to overcome, and it hurts you to watch him sink further into oblivion.  Vadala is a pathetic loser and you sense his violent streak even at the beginning, a bomb waiting to explode, and he is terrific in his portrayal.  And Epstein has been a stalwart actor for many years in local theatre and he is a perfect choice for the “Father Confessor” role this play offers.

    I highly recommend this play.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.


  1. Quite the cast indeed. Sounds excellent.

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