Shortchanging America

Nickel & Dimed reveals a culture that cheapens workers' lives.

Six actors take on numerous different roles under Chip Walton's direction. Dee Covington is humorous and energetic as Barbara, but in some ways, I found her performance the least satisfying of the evening. It felt too presentational; I had a hard time forgetting she was acting. Billie McBride creates a succession of sharply defined characters. She's particularly winning as the fast-moving, awesomely competent waitress, Gail, and as Marge, the cleaning lady who loves cooking and regales her hungry co-workers with descriptions of her creative recipes. Christopher Leo's characters are convincing, too, from the befuddled George (I was so afraid George would be a caricature out of Saturday Night Live) to the aristocratic Lewis Lapham. Laura Chavez brings a charming energy to all her people. Gwen Harris is wonderful as the defeated hotel maid, Carlie, a slumped, hopeless woman who's clearly not going to last much longer on the job (and heaven knows what'll happen to her when she loses it), and as sweet, religious Melissa. Kendra Crain is a fine actress. She's particularly moving as Holly, a young pregnant woman struggling to stay chirpy, keep the other women in line and please her boss at the cleaning outfit. Neil Haverstick provides evocative accompaniment on the guitar.

With Nickel & Dimed, Curious shines a light on a stratum of society many people prefer not to see. What's revealed is suffering, certainly, but also courage, ingenuity and human caring.

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