SWEAT. When I hear this word, the things that comes to mind are probably what comes to the minds of most people: sweating, a very hot day, hard labour, and oddly, ice cream that is melting on a cone in the hand of a young child who wants nothing more than for that ice cream to stay cold forever… However, seeing the actual play at The Donmar Warehouse made wonder why the play had that name.
For starters, the play was about a group of friends that talked about their problems, predominately at a bar and how one friend’s promotion damaged the friendships around them. I guess the name Sweat could refer to the labour of the main characters in a factory. The play really played out to me the problems of rash decisions, especially when we feel as if everything is going to fall apart. One thing that was helpful was the workshop that we took part in, prior to the performance. It really got me thinking about the clear themes demonstrated throughout the play. One of the characters said, ‘They’ll always find someone who’s willing to get their hands sweaty’ which links to present day issues as people, especially those in power, sometimes look for people to do their dirty work for them.
“ They’ll always find someone who’s willing to get their hands dirty.”
Sweat shows how the people in power used the workers and gave them false hope when all that time, their wages were being cut and others were losing their jobs. This clearly demonstrated the theme of capitalism and its destructive effects on ordinary people. However, as we went further into the play, we see how Cynthia’s promotion ruined relationships with her friends and family during a long-term period. We also see physical changes in her character; in her clothes, the way she carries herself and even little changes in her actions. In one scene the character, Cynthia is wearing dusty yellow dungarees and boots showing the manual work she does. In the next scene, however, we see her in a suit and a shirt with heels and a handbag. The audience also see her apply hand cream to her hands, showing us how the system on an area or country can influence our quality of life and the type of life we live.
One of the most prominent themes were alcoholism and escapism which is understandable considering the time period that the play was set and the issues that the characters themselves faced. The bar was the main set, and this was where the character came to talk and get drunk- maybe as a way to cope with all the pain. There were not any predominantly happy moments starting from the beginning and end and I think that if there were, it would defeat the purpose of the play, which I believe is to make us understand how the economy and financial situations shape our lives.