In the BackStage Theater Company’s “Waiting for Lefty, ” playwright Clifford Odets hammers home his conviction that Big Labor can save Americans from the heartless, profit-bound machinations of Big Business. Given the current state of the American union, Odets must be rolling over in his grave. Yet the show succeeds despite the Depression-era script’s overly earnest simplicity, briskly clipping along from vignette to vignette, detailing the exploitation of workers and their families: a cab driver-union strike, a young researcher bribed to spy on a colleague, doctors dealing with prejudice and the whims of their wealthy funders. Brenda Barrie and Robert Fagin tug the heartstrings as a young couple in a financially doomed romance. The show’s sound and set design captures labor’s propaganda of the time. Despite its anachronisms (Odets’ pro-Soviet leanings seem almost quaint), “Waiting for Lefty” still manages to address issues (war, healthcare) that affect us today. (Lisa Buscani)
At the Viaduct, 3111 N. Western, (773)296-6024. This production is now closed.