Uzo Aduba, Kara Young, Ron Cephas, Edmund Donovan and Reza Salazar Photo by Joan Marcus
Ain’t nobody gonna hire us, and she knows it.
Lynn Nottage’s Clyde’s is funny, bright, smart, heartbreaking and highly entertaining. Set in a truck stop diner in Pennsylvania, this is a rural nightmare version of Hell’s Kitchen. The Gordon Ramsey is Clyde (Uzo Aduba) who hires people who have been released from prison. She is their last hope and she lauds it over then with her long pointed finger nails, excessive wardrobe, fabulously designed by Jennifer Moeller.and her fouler than foul temper. This is her domain and she is going to let everyone know it.
My mama used to stick me with her fingernail, kept it sharpened like a talon designed to inflict maximum pain, and every so often she’d poke me just to see if I’d cry. And you know how I reacted?
Clyde looms over this pit and she pops out behind the refrigerator, pass-through window, where the tickets are like messages of doom. Takeshi Kata’s set design gives director Kate Whoriskey miles of playroom for this delicious fun.
you here cuz you done run outta options, ain’t nobody gonna hire you except for Clyde. Especially you. The way you is. Cuz if you here, you done something. We all done something. And we just biding our time ‘til we can get to another place.
Here Letitia/ Tish (the powerful Kara Young), Rafael (the comedic Reza Salazar) the man who loves her, the newcomer Jason (the layered Edmund Donovan) and the zen Montrellous (the superb Ron Cephas Jones) survive. We learn what brought them here, what keeps them imprisoned in their lives, as they all become obsessed with making the perfect sandwich and getting Clyde to taste it. They are all down on their luck, looking for a second chance. Tish is a single mom caring for a sick child. Rafael longs to give and receive love and has a weakness for drugs to numb the pain. Jason’s story is a revelation, as is Montrellous, whose life is an inspiration.
This sandwich is my strength. This sandwich is my victory. This sandwich is my freedom.
In the end Clyde’s is about standing up for what you believe, regaining what little power and humanity you have and claiming your spirituality.
Why you be so hard on us. You of all people know how tough it is to get out. You know what we face down everyday. I mean, fucking hell I can’t even walk down the street without feeling like everyone’s hating on me. I wake up with my chest so tight I can’t breathe.
This play is emotionally gratifying with a cast that is exceptional. Though Aduba, is the star, this is an ensemble piece and the heartbeat is Ron Cephas Jones, but you can’t have good with out evil and Aduba, is the perfect demon for the job. You can’t have a play without conflict and souls to be saved and that is Young, Salazar and Donovan. There is nothing about this show that wasn’t perfectly done.
My negativity was legendary. I could pass blame like a magician. Everyone was responsible for my unhappiness, but me. And that darkness is still there, but now I can see that I can’t let it or anybody get a hold of me. I’m being one hundred percent serious. But, that hole’s pull-in’ atcha, and you don’t even know it.
Lynn Nottage’s words cut, burn and sizzle while making you laugh and cry. I found myself laughing out loud for the first hour and in tears for the last half hour. Nottage cleanses the soul.
This is a must see show and the perfect gift to give for the holiday season, as it is what the holidays should be about.
Can’t be afraid of the hard choices.
Second Stage Theater is partnering with Assemble Stream to offer simulcasts of its current Broadway production of Lynn Nottage’s play, Clyde’s, directed by Kate Whoriskey, for the final two weeks of its run, January 4 – 16, 2022, allowing theater fans who aren’t able to attend in person the opportunity to witness a live Broadway performance. Tickets are available at https://2st.assemblestream.com/ . Tickets are $59 and $30 to those ages 30 and under with code 30UNDER30. There is a limited number of tickets per performance.
Clyde’s: Second Stage production at the Helen Hayes Theatre, 240 W. 44th St. until January 16th.