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Picks and Pans Review: Lineman and Sweet Lightnin'

updated 06/13/1983 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/13/1983 01:00AM

It may not be On The Waterfront or Norma Rae, but this overtly pro-labor union play is interesting in its own way and represents a social phenomenon of note. Commissioned for $70,000 by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), it was written by Jehane Dyllan, 38, also author of a drama called Silkwood, which has been staged in major U.S. cities and whose subject is the Oklahoma nuclear plant worker who died in a 1974 car crash while driving to give a reporter evidence she said documented allegations of falsified safety records. Dyllan stars in Lineman as Sweet Lightnin', a telecommunications plant assembly line worker and union member who is psyched up over a negotiating session; Paul (One Life to Live) Meacham plays Lineman, an older, wiser and less gung-ho union colleague who is the voice of pragmatism. Meacham is an accomplished actor, and the play is preachy but at times powerful—as in Lineman's speech mourning his own lost sense of rebellion. The most remarkable thing about Lineman, though, is its mere existence. The play is, in fact, a throwback to the 1930s, when the American theater was sometimes used for pro-union statements. Lineman, first staged in May at the Kennedy Center in Washington, will follow a June 8-9 run at the CWA convention in Los Angeles with performances in Baltimore, Indianapolis, New York, New Orleans and Palm Beach. Admission will range from free to $5.

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