The curtain opens on a bare stage at Northern Kentucky University with a few gray geometrical objects scattered about. There is a striking lack of intimacy and human scale in this environment. When you see 39 cast members stream on (there were only 26 in the 2000 ATC production in Chicago), you realize director Ken Jones has planned his production of Working as an extravaganza.
The empty stage floor accommodates one thing very well: a dance show.
To accommodate the needs of the choreography, other elements of the play have been altered. The stage is swept bare, and dancers back up most of the play’s monologue-like numbers. The razzle-dazzle of Jones’s staging of Working is not automatically a flaw, until you consider the authentic simplicity upon which the play’s emotional effects hang.
For this simple but powerful show, based on a book of interviews by Studs Terkel, actors become American workers who talk about their working lives. The acting must be sincere and heartfelt, as 25 laborers divulge their deepest hopes, dreams, fears and resentments in words and song.
Tuesday-Sunday through March 1. Read the full review here.