Worthy production of Odets’ classic ant-establishment drama
The revolutionary folks at Oracle Theatre have mounted a stinging and powerful version of the 1935 Depression Era classic so it is fitting that they would do dramatic justice to the ant-Establishment work.
Clifford Odets’ revolutionary work first produced by the Group Theatre using “agit-prop” theatre techniques. This work utilizes actor surrounding the audience to arouse responses and to break the ‘fourth walk.’ While a tad dated, Waiting For Lefty is still a classic warning to big corporations not to continue to oppress the American working class. In the 1930′s the play was a huge success and it was mounted all over the country even in union halls. It ignited a strong reaction and it aided union recruiting.
Oracle’s production, under the tight flowing direction by Matt Foss, have mounted apowerful production of Waiting For Lefty. Told in a series of vignettes structured around a taxi union meeting to discuss a strike in NYC, the work dramatizes the greed and exploitation of workers by big business. Odets was a socialist/communist who admired the Russian model in the 1930′s. He used Lefty to dramatize and promote his anti-capitalist beliefs by exposing the exploitation in human terms.
Featuring a cast of 4 principal players, Lefty has several poignant scenes including one that has a secretary promoting socialism and one that shows a taxi driver unable to feed his family. An industrialist tries to bribe a young female chemist to spy on her boss who is making a new deadly gas for warfare while a female Jewish doctor is cut from a hospital for being female and Jewish. The outrages continue until the group is so angered that fits are raised and “strike! strike!” is heard.
The show has many terrific moments and features nice work form Jeremy Clark, Stephanie Polt, John Arthur Lewis and Dylan Stuckey. The 55 minute drama will stir up your rage as you ponder the contemporary plight of the American worker. Too bad the contemporary solutions are not as obvious as the 1930′s were. The staging was imaginative and the leads performances were terrific, especially from Jeremy Clark as Fatt and Dylan Stuckey as Joe. This is an example of the fine body of work that Oracle Theatre continues to mount. Their unique funding approach would make Odets’ smile. This is worth a look.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: July 8. 2013
For more info checkout the Waiting For Lefty page at theatreinchicago.com
At Oracle Theatre, 3089 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL, www.publicaccesstheatre.org, tickets are free, through July 27, 2013