Tag Archives: Clyde's


11 May

“I’m not mean. The world is mean, and I’m in it.”

So says Clyde to one of her employees. (Apologies to playwright Lynn Nottage if I’ve misquoted her beautiful words.)

Clyde runs a sandwich shop frequented by truckers and staffed by ex-cons like herself.

Clyde, played by Nancy Denis with superbly exuberant strut and sass, actually is mean. In a unjust world, it’s a totally understandable survival strategy.

But this play is about not letting yourself be defined by what’s been done to you. It glories in agency, in responsibility, in the shedding of the excuses that hold us back.

Sandwich hand Letitia, played by Ebony Vagulans with a mesmerising combination of swagger and vulnerability, says she wants to stop blaming other people. Co-worker Jason is dreadfully ashamed of his past racism and is desperate to leave it behind, and Aaron Tsindos presents him as an utterly fascinating battle between anger and restraint. Rafael, in a performance by Gabriel Alvarado that glitters with comic magic, firmly looks forward, seeking reasons to celebrate. He and his fellow employees gain encouragement from Montrellous, the Buddha in the ‘hood (to paraphrase Rafael). Charles Allen captures Montrellous’ magnificent dignity and his ability to inspire others to find a beauty that can transcend cruel mundanity. Nottage’s masterstroke is to make the beauty they seek the perfect sandwich. It’s so every day that it can speak to everyone.

Darren Yap’s production of this splendid play is gloriously uplifting.   

Is the world perfect? no.

Can everyone transcend their suffering? maybe not.

Is it worth being reminded it’s a possibility? yes. Yes. And YES!!!!

Paul Gilchrist

Clyde’s by Lynn Nottage

Ensemble Theatre until 10 June


Image by Prudence Upton