Theatre Review: Waiting For Lefty

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The stock market has tanked. Banks are failing. And if you can’t pay your mortgage, you’ll lose your house.

Sounds like today’s newscast. But I’m talking about a drama from 1935, called “Waiting for Lefty.” The topic is a strike by taxi drivers. Their pay has been cut, they’re angry. But the union strategist warns that guys on the picket line can really get hurt.

“Look at the textile strike – out like lions, in like lambs. Take the San Francisco tie-up – starvation and broken heads. It’s the trend of the times, that’s what it is.”

But as the wife of one of the drivers runs out of money for food, she sees no alternative. 

“Get those hack boys together. Stand up like men and fight for the crying kids and wives, I’m tired of slavery and sleepless nights.” 

 “Sit down.” 

 “Yes, get brass toes on your shoes, and know where to kick!”

Author Clifford Odets wrote this script in three days, and the play is short and intense. But it’s also a big show, with 21 characters  – bosses and doctors, worried workers and a gun-toting goon. The dire circumstances force people to decide whether they’re willing to take risky actions that could leave them homeless. It’s a bold portrait of American society under stress – a historical moment with parallels to our own time.

"Waiting For Lefty" continues at River Stage on the Cosumnes River College campus through October 26th.