‘Clyde’s’ is a tantalizing new play about a quest for love, dignity, and the ideal sandwich.

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‘Clyde’s’ is a tantalizing new play about a quest for love, dignity, and the ideal sandwich.

Three ex-cons who work at the eponymous diner for the titular boss are in a soul-searching struggle in Lynn Nottage’s tremendously hilarious new Broadway drama, directed by longtime colleague Kate Whoriskey. They’re fighting for dignity, self-worth, hope, and the recipe for the ideal sandwich. Clyde, played by Uzo Aduba as the boss from hell, and Montrellous, played by Ron Cephus Jones as an ex-convict who works at the diner but has ambitions and aspirations that this kitchen’s menu can’t fulfill.

Aduba is a joy to see as she gives everything she has in her depiction of Clyde, savoring the power she wields over her workers as well as her every fashion mistake. If Clyde is the boss from hell—and she is—for her employees, this is the job from hell, complete with flames to emphasize the point. Clyde has her feet and very high heels firmly placed on their necks, and these four are locked here, fresh out of prison and with absolutely no options. Designer Jennifer Moeller might be nominated for a Tony Award and fined by the fashion police for these creations.

Ron Cephas Jones, who plays Montrellous, keeps up with her every step of the way. Jones has a lot of charisma and can communicate a lot with just a whisper and a look. Monty is a divine messenger and missionary for the ideal sandwich in this kitchen. With a dash of Eastern religion, he raises sandwich crafting to an art form. He provides his coworkers a fresh path to meaning in their soul-sucking professions, and potentially an escape from them, with each new sandwich recipe. A pinch of spice, a well-placed garnish, and a small piece of their hearts may or may not set them free.

The first scene tells us everything we need to know: Monty tries to get Clyde to try one of his sandwich creations, which he claims will transport the audience to a four-star restaurant. She declines him while smoking a cigarette in front of a no smoking sign. She doesn’t seem to be interested. Her preferences are just as low-rent as his are high-rent. It’s also a location where regulations are supposed to be followed. This is a condensed version of the information.

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