You will never understand the power of a garnish, unless you go see Clyde’s. Do not show up for the performance hungry for dinner (especially for a sandwich) but show up hungry for laughter, connection, and really good storytelling.
Clyde’s taps into the ordinary and it becomes a way of connecting. Everyone has made a sandwich and at some point that sandwich has been more than the sum of its parts to the person making it or the person eating it. We have all been knocked down before and had the opportunity to build ourselves back up. Incarcerated individuals represent the rock bottom of being knocked down and four such individuals find themselves in the kitchen at Clyde’s truck stop.
Rafael, Letitia, Jason and Montrellous each have their own histories with incarceration and working the line at Clyde’s is their opportunity at a new beginning. Clyde, the owner of Clyde’s, has her own sordid past. In the kitchen, Clyde gives her staff an opportunity that few others do. Everyone makes mistakes, but how we judge them with so little context is problematic. .
People are constantly building up walls. By nature, we want to protect ourselves from the harsh realities of life, from one another, and from our own vulnerability. There are two things that force us to let our guards down and feel: art and food. Clyde’s is art visually as the detailed set which is the truck stop restaurant’s kitchen and theatrically as an art form that lets the audience experience life from the safety of their theatre seats. Clyde’s had a room full of strangers laughing together often. We collectively developed soft spots for the characters.
Clyde’s is a short play, but in 90 minutes you get to know and love Rafael, Letitia, Jason, Montrellous, and even Clyde (a little). You feel for them as you learn their stories and watch them let their guard down with one another. Theatre allows you to be vulnerable in a low stakes way by watching those on stage go through it as they take you along. April Nixon, as Clyde, with her many fabulous wigs had you fearing her a little and wondering what made her so gruff . The chemistry and energy between Wesley Guimarães as Rafael and Cyndii Johnson as Letitia was tight, creating waves of laughter throughout the show and I may have shed a tear or two by the end. Harold Surratt’s Montrellous was warm and inspiring. While Guinarães, Johnson, Surratt and Nixon were the pillars of the story, Louis Reyes McWilliam’s Jason had the greatest arc and McWilliams nailed the role.
I mentioned food as the second thing that makes us let our guards down and feel. Food can tap into a memory, it can make us feel loved, it can excite us and wake more than just our senses. Food and cooking is a life line for the characters. Cooking is a meditation, an escape, but also a source of frustration and power struggle. A sandwich is humble food but it can be more. It brings an element of hope and a concrete goal to their lives. The audience is brought into the daydream of these perfect sandwiches as each cook describes their ideas. Clyde’s at its core is about human connection, regret and hope.
When a single sandwich is the only “character” on stage and it holds the attention of an entire theatre, you know something special just took place.
The Huntington’s Clyde’s in co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre plays at The Huntington Theatre at 264 Huntington Avenue, through April 23rd. Tickets are available here including a few special performances listed below.
ACCESS PERFORMANCES FOR CLYDE’S
Tickets are $20 for each patron and their guests. To reserve tickets please
email firstname.lastname@example.org, call ticketing services at 617-266-0800, or in person at the Huntington
Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston. Accessible performances are supported in part by the Liberty
ASL-INTERPRETED PERFORMANCE: Friday, April 14 at 8pm. The Huntington offers American Sign
Language interpretation at designated performances for patrons who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
OPEN CAPTIONED PERFORMANCE: Tuesday, April 18 at 7:30pm. The Huntington offers open captioning
at designated performances for any patron who benefits from having the text of spoken dialogue visible in
time with the play.
AUDIO-DESCRIBED PERFORMANCE: Saturday, April 22 at 2pm. The Huntington offers audio description
for patrons who are blind or low-vision at designated performances. Please
visit huntingtontheatre.org/visit/accessibility for information.