Of all the agit-prop plays of the 1930s, only this Clifford Odets work was potent enough to capture mainstream attention, launch Odets' career, validate the efforts of the fledgling Group Theatre and achieve semiclassic status. Dealing as it does with a taxi strike, it put the lives and pungent language of working-class people onstage as never before — and seldom since. Though the play was historic, director Don K. Williams proves it isn't just a historical curiosity. He's assembled 21 fine actors and melded them into a stunning portrait of the times with obvious parallels to our own day. The play deals with the plight of taxi driver Joe (Jesse Steccato), lamed by World War I, who comes home from work to find his furniture repossessed, his children hungry and his wife (Katharine Brandt) in rebellion. Miller (Jeremy Ferdman) loses his job because he refuses to spy on a fellow worker. And Sid (Chase Fein) must break up with the girl he loves (Emily Jackson) because they can't afford to marry. A doctor (David Lengel) is fired by his hospital to make room for an incompetent senator's son. Corrupt union man Harry Fatt (Adam Bitterman) strives mightily to avert a strike, assisted by armed thugs, but the collective anger — along with the unmasking of a company spy — defeats him. Union activist Agate (an impassioned Darren Keefe) brings things to a stunning climax with a furious call for action. Art of Acting Studio, 1017 N. Orange Drive; Sat., 8 p.m (added perf Oct. 22, 10:15 p.m.); through Oct. 22. (323) 876-5481, artofactingstudio.com.

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 22, 10:15 p.m. Starts: Sept. 16. Continues through Oct. 22, 2011

LA Weekly