**** Highly Recommended **** The Goodman Theatre production of Lynn Nottage’s new play, Clyde’s, which premiered on Broadway just under a year ago, is nothing short of delish! I ended up hungry, what with all the yummy sounding sandwiches being created on the stage. By the way, kudos to the cast for their knife work. I know how hard that is to learn! The story is poignant yet funny – and I found myself ticked off at Clyde, and rooting for the kitchen staff. 4 BIG Spotlights
At the beginning, the stage is all in black, except for the neon-lighted Clyde’s sign and a drive-up window highlighting a sandwich. As the drive-up window, which looks a lot like a cartoon panel, slowly enlarges, until it reveals the final panel – a truck-stop kitchen – outlined in reddish-orange neon.
The sandwich shop is owned by a woman named Clyde (Danielle Davis) – and who knew Clyde could be a woman – who gives ex-cons a chance by hiring them to work in the kitchen. She quickly reveals herself as a mean person who is constantly berating her staff, threatening them, putting them down, even sexually harassing them. She refuses to taste any of the special sandwiches. In fact, she got even meaner after the shop gets a write-up in a local newspaper.
Her first ex-con employee, Montrellis (Kevin Kennerly), who has dreams of creating the absolute best sandwich ever, is convinced this sandwich show can be a success. He frequently fantasizes – out loud – the ingredients to a perfect sandwich, often followed by the fantasy efforts of sous chefs, Rafael (Reza Salazar) and Letitia (Nedra Snipes).
Their division of space is upset when Jason (Garrett Young) is hired. By the way, I’m convinced that this ex-con Jason is the same Jason who went to prison for the horrible attack at the conclusion of Nottage’s other play set in Pennsylvania, Sweat. Since he really needs the job, he tries to fit in.
The lighting totally changes at certain points in the story, actually highlighting a sandwich. I’m not sure if there’s any symbolism involved, but at the end, each of the four add something to a sandwich, then stepping out of the set – maybe escaping from the play?
Note: Masks are encouraged but not required.
Another note: I wasn’t able to make the opening of Clyde’s as I was ill. The Goodman was gracious enough to let me attend well into the run.
Clyde’s runs through October 16th in the Albert Theatre at the Goodman Theatre,170 N. Dearborn, Chicago. Most reasonable parking option for the Goodman is the Government Center garage on Lake between LaSalle and Dearborn, online advance payment at www.interparkonline.com/goodmantheatre.
Running time is 90 minutes, no intermission. Remaining performances are Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8:00 pm; Saturday at 2:00 and 8:00 pm; and Sunday at 2:00 pm. Tickets $35-$80. FYI (312) 443-3800 or www.goodmantheatre.org/Gem.