Skeleton Crew: A Powerful, Female Driven, Blue Collar Tragedy

Jennifer Fouche (Faye), Darius Dotch (Reggie), Stephanie Everett (Shanita), and Mikell Sapp (Dez).
Photo by Dan Norman

Skeleton Crew, which is playing at the McGuire Proscenium Stage at the Guthrie from now until June 9, is as prescient as it is timeless, as universal as it is specific. The play is composed of a series of break room conversations between four employees at a dying automotive plant. Three of the employees (Faye, a lesbian who is less than a year away from retirement; Shanita, a pregnant woman who takes serious pride in her work at the plant; and Dez, a man with dreams of owning his own business) work on the floor of the plant. The other employee, Reggie, is a middle manager with the same upbringing as the people he manages who struggles with exactly how thin the line that separates him from them is.

Skeleton Crew is impeccably designed, from the spinning circles of light that guide the viewer into the show to the way the last action of so many scenes transitions into industrial, musical dance breaks in which the larger than life shadows of the cast pantomime factory labor. The design of the break room is cluttered and familiar, full of aging appliances, legally mandated signage, and passive aggressive notices that build up over the course of the play.

Thematically, Skeleton Crew focuses primarily on the inherent precariousness of living in a capitalist system, though it deftly explores themes like love, loss, purpose, pride, fear, and fragility as well. Playwright Dominique Morisseau built a cast of four deeply nuanced characters who are as fiercely protective of each other as they are their own secrets. Morisseau captures the audience in the first act with a bright sense of humor and a looming sense of dread before she cracks our hearts open with the secret pains and fears that every character is hiding.

Stephanie Everett (Shanita).
Photo by Dan Norman

Skeleton Crew is an especially emotional experience for folks with any one of the many marginalized identities represented on stage – whether gay or black or female or aging or pregnant or financially insecure, Morisseau explores the realities people in these stages of life or with these identities with deep empathy. She digs into the lived experience of people who are afraid or hurt or struggling because of who they are with a complexity that will make you feel seen – even if you’re not what she’s looking at.

The cast of Skeleton Crew is a powerful one. Darius Dotch plays a conflicted, doe-eyed Reggie, begging sympathy for an often-distant character. Mikell Sapp leans into the exaggerated nature of Dez, whose brashness is a shield for an observant man with a careful heart. Stephanie Everett shines as Shanita, whose hopes and fears surrounding her pregnancy slowly emerge throughout the show and whose passion for her work at the plant is nothing short of inspirational.

Jennifer Fouché, though, steals the show as Faye. Faye is introduced as a lovable stick in the mud who quickly blossoms into a protective mother figure before she unravels in her attempts to protect the young people around her. All the while she refuses their reciprocal protection, too hurt by the many ways in which her own life has broken her down.

Stephanie Everett (Shanita) and Mikell Sapp (Dez).
Photo by Dan Norman

This is a show that I plan to see again. Skeleton Crew is the kind of story that benefits from repeated viewings due to the multi-layered nature of every character and the constant revelations of their secrets. Skeleton Crew is a must-see production for anyone who loves character-driven, heart-felt storytelling.

Tickets are available through the box office or on the Guthrie website. 

Skeleton Crew
Through to June 9
Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis

Lavender Magazine Logo White

5100 Eden Ave, Suite 107 • Edina, MN 55436
©2024 Lavender Media, Inc.

Accessibility & Website Disclaimer