Review: Skeleton Crew at Big Idea Theatre

Skeleton Crew

Four working-class Detroiters struggle to survive in the midst of the Great Recession.

Four working-class Detroiters struggle to survive in the midst of the Great Recession.

Photo courtesy of Yarcenia Garcia

Showtimes: Thu 8pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 8pm, Mon 8pm; Through 10/26; $12-$18; Big Idea Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Blvd, (916) 960-3036,
Rated 4.0

It’s 2008, during what we optimistically call the last “Great Recession,” in a Detroit automobile stamping plant. Other plants are closing, and there are rumors that this one, too, is headed for extinction.

Skeleton Crew, now at Big Idea Theatre, tells the story of four workers at this imperiled plant. It’s a family drama, really, as Faye (Voress Franklin), Dez (Tarig Elsiddig), Shanita (Brooklynn Solomon) and Reggie (Tory Scroggins) have become family, familiar with each other’s lives, hopes—and now—fears.

Faye, also the employee union rep, has 29 years on the line and hopes to make it to the 30-year mark to get her pension. Dez, a smart young hustler, hopes to open his own auto repair shop. Shanita is a very pregnant single-mother-to-be, with all the excitement and trepidation that it brings. And Reggie, their supervisor, is a man constantly walking a tightrope between what he knows from management and what he can say or do to help his friends while protecting himself.

It’s a strong, experienced cast. Franklin is a four-time Elly Award winner; Solomon shone as Ginger in STC’s production of Ginger Rutland’s When We Were Colored; and Elsiddig and Scroggins co-starred in the outstanding Blue Door at Celebration Arts. They act and interact well together, only Scroggins appears a bit restrained here.

Director Anthony D’Juan helps playwright Dominique Morisseau dramatize her exploration of big themes on a personal scale on a perfectly realized stage designed by Russell Dow.