Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
Also see Rebecca's review of Kiss
Clyde's takes place in the kitchen of a truck stop sandwich stop. Clyde (Tiffany Barrett), the shop's owner, has some big problems and an attitude to match. She takes out her frustrations on her staff of formerly incarcerated line cooks, knowing that they have no where else to go if she kicks them to the curb. It could be a miserable place to work, but one cook on a quest to create the perfect sandwich keeps the entire team feeling good and dreaming big.
That cook is the unflappable Montrellous, played by DeShields with a calm coolness even a cucumber could envy. DeShields' serious stage presence and ample charm are key to the success of the production. Barret brings brash confidence and grit to the role of Clyde. It is easy to understand why everyone gets nervous when she saunters into the kitchen. No one suffers more abuse from Clyde than Rafael. Hernandez is phenomenal, making the audience feel Rafael's struggle to meet whatever challenges face him with good humor and stoic determination. Nixon conveys both confidence and vulnerability as Letitia and her hazing of new hire Jason (Brian Cowden) is simply hilarious. Nixon and Cowden transform their characters in a really satisfying way over the course of the play.
Set designer Kyu Shin has created a convincing restaurant kitchen on stage for Clyde's. The set is enhanced by J. Dominic Chacon's thoughtful and well executed lighting design. Costume designer Ilycia Buffaloe provides appropriate looks for the entire kitchen staff, but the strong and sexy costumes designed for Barret are my favorites.
Clyde's had me laughing out loud in the theater and thinking about purpose and joy for hours after. It also made me really hungry. You may want to eat before you watch. Or at least plan to pickup a really good sandwich after.
Clyde's runs through March 12, 2023, at the Arden Theatre Company's Arcadia Stage, 40 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia PA. For tickets and information, please visit www.ardentheatre.org, call 215-922-1122, or visit the box office at The Arden Theatre Company.