The critically acclaimed “Beyond Caring” makes its U.S. debut at the Lookingglass Theatre Company, and it will leave audiences speechless and heartbroken.
This London production has been re-tooled for the U.S and Chicago by writer and director Alexander Zeldin, and is providing one of the realest, rawest, and most necessary portrayals of the world’s invisible workers. In “Beyond Caring”, three female temporary workers join a crew of two men and are responsible for the cleaning of a meat processing factory. Audiences will come face to face with poverty, disability, and poor working conditions in this powerfully distressing play.
Ebony-Grace, Tracy, and Sonia are the new temporary workers joining full-timer Phil on the cleaning team at the meat processing factory where they are overseen by Ian. The set portrays the soul-sucking nature of most indoor, labor-intensive jobs. The audience walks through heavy plastic doors to get to their seats, and the only lighting in the play is from several overhead fluorescent lights. There is only one bathroom, a small sink area with a coffee maker, and dirty and bare walls and floors.
With such a bare set, the actors excellently carry most of the play. J. Nicole Brooks portrayal of Tracy provides the greatest range of emotion for an audience member. At one moment you’ll be jamming with Tracy to the hip hop on her phone then you’ll love her for helping out a co-worker in need and in a split instance be mad at her for some self-destructive actions. Wendy Mateo’s portrayal of Sonia will make you cry, and there is no way around it. Bring the tissues. Caren Blackmore as Ebony-Grace is sweet, naive, and a fighter. Edwin Lee Gibson as Phil will leave you curious. Finally, Keith D. Gallagher as Ian is every boss you’ve had who is under-qualified and believes they are over-qualified for their job.
Watching someone lose their dollar that they’ve worked hard to earn, or someone else using two hands and their body to squeeze a bottle while fighting arthritis, or someone else have their boss rush them in the bathroom will be distressing. There are points where you might laugh at the unreasonableness until you realize that the absurdity is the reality for too many people in society. A play this powerful will have you talking for a while with your friends but not after a good amount of silence needed to recover from the harsh conditions you’ve experienced—conditions that many people don’t have the luxury to recover from.
“Beyond Caring” is running until May 7 at the Lookingglass Theatre Company, 821 N. Michigan Ave. Tickets range from $40–$75. For showtimes and more information visit lookingglasstheatre.org/event_page/beyond-caring.