A play or musical is not likely to spark a revolution, but it can certainly heighten political awareness through militant anthems, chants, and hymns to pride of place and dignity of labor. While I found the music stirring and even universal in its reach, what I found equally impressive are the lyrics. Even outside of song, the musicated speech is frequently expressed in organized couplets. I could not help thinking I would like to read these words as literature of the unstoppable, timeless working class—clear and unpretentious, but still poetical, intimate and elevated in tone.
The song “Island of Souls,” which is recapitulated a couple of times, is about that place where these working folks’ souls will go after death. It’s a sad, but collectively comforting reminder that the work that labor achieves will long outlive any individual life. We who inhabit the celebrity culture need to reminded of that: Celebrities will come and go, rise and sink, get rich and go bankrupt, fall in and out of love. But our honest work will stand for generations, centuries, even millennia, as tribute to our common endeavor.