Common Thread Theatre Collective Presents the Riotous Comedy, “Clyde’s”
“Clyde’s” is a crazy good story about a bunch of diverse felons trying to create an amazingly perfect sandwich!
Hot off the Broadway stage, “Clyde’s” was snagged by Common Thread Theatre Collective, earning the rights to produce the comedy for its 2023 summer season opener. Lucky for North Carolina, “Clyde’s” is being staged in the Lake Norman region at the Barber Theatre on the campus of Davidson College.
Written by the notable, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage, “Clyde’s” is an unusual, spicy comedy played by unordinary characters and staged in an uncommon stage setting. A quartet of formerly incarcerated individuals work in the bustling kitchen of the callous owner of a highway sandwich truck stop. But discord doesn’t collide.
Au contraire. Painstakingly, as the disparate bunch of former felons unravel mistakes of their past, they try to create the perfect sandwich that could represent strength, victory, and freedom, a gesture to rebuild a productive worthwhile life.
“Clyde’s” scenic design by Harlan D. Penn is a gorgeous structure encompassing every incredible detail of a working kitchen. The floor to ceiling shelvesare stacked with pots and pans and all sorts of necessary kitchenware. The countertops are loaded with knives, cutting boards, and carefully detailed take-out sandwich baskets. The sink has useful running water, and stovetop burners are prepared to grill hamburgers to order that have been stored in the walk-in refrigerator accessible through a swinging front door.
“Clyde’s” characters—the kitchen staff – fit the perfect profile of Common Thread’s creative challenge, “to bring voices and stories of communities that have been historically underrepresented in American mainstream theatre.”
Eduardo Sanchez plays Rafael, the Latino sous-chef, a lusty charmer with you-know-what on his mind. He’s a charmer, all right, who adjoins every word with an “f” adjective, pronoun, verb or even making f… the noun. (They all do!) Rafael also flings out some spicy common humdingers in Spanish! Sanchez is a shoo in for his role. He shines.
Scott Tynes-Miller plays Jason, a seemingly fisty, tattooed Caucasian hoodlum sporting a swastika across his neck. Tynes-Miller is charged with spicy remolding of Jason from misguided distrust into a hopeful future that he claims, “could even make me want to like an ugly woman,” and he does it well.
H’Arrya Canty is an African American student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University pursuing a BFA in Professional Theatre. As Common Thread’s intern, Canty plays the vivacious Letitia, a talkative female sandwich chef. The lovely Canty cuts a gracious figure strutting across the stage. She delivers Letitia with élan but could tone down her words a decibel or two.
By contrast, Tyler Madden could raise the sound of his words a tad. Madden portrays Montrellous, ostensibly the only “sane” felon of the bunch, equally trusted by his fellow ex-cons and the tyrannical Clyde herself. As Madden literally glides around the stage, curious sandwich makers, their hardened boss, and an attentive audience all cock their ears, anxious to hear Montrellous relate his mysterious tale. Madden is a delight!
Then there’s the outrageous, profane Clyde, the tough threatening owner of the sandwich truck stop, performed by the versatile Angela Williams Tripp. Her role may be ugly, but Williams Tripp is a pro!
The story of a bunch of felons making sandwiches, “Clyde’s” is a comedy with a good message and sudden surprises. Skillfully directed by Luther D. Wells, the production is enhanced by the designs of Rachael Blackwell’s lighting and Jairous Parker’s sound. Gregory J. Horton’s extensive line of costumes is fantastic.
“Clyde’s” is good comedic theatre. The play may be seen each night at 7:30 this week through Saturday and at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 25.