Clyde’s – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Some days a crunchy peanut butter sandwich, with globs of strawberry jelly, on fresh Wonder bread might be your ticket to heaven. On other days, you crave nothing less than a mound of spicy hot pastrami, oozing with melted Swiss cheese, thick tomato and grilled onions, with a smear of Deli brown mustard, on grilled poppyseed laced Jewish rye bread. Whatever your sandwich of choice, playwright Lynn Nottage has her multi-faseted menu of selections ready to satisfy your taste buds when you enter her creative comedy “Clyde’s.”

Until Saturday, August 5, TheaterWorks Hartford is inviting you to pull up a stool and set yourself down at a truck stop sandwich shop that is unique in its culinary offerings and in its staff of employees: formerly incarcerated criminals. With Latonia Phipps as the eatery’s take-no prisoners’ owner, her staff has set themselves an unusual goal, with or without her blessing, to create the perfect sandwich. With the encouragement of Michael Chenevert’s Montrellous, each of the other three workers dream aloud of the tastes and flavors that could mingle and match in their personal version of the ideal, the sublime, concoction that will elicit rapture and ecstasy with each morsel.

The employees at Clyde’s have made serious mistakes and have served their time and are now trying to put their lives back together, fragile and full of doubts as they are. David T. Patterson’s Jason is the newest man on the line and he quickly sees that Clyde holds the verbal whip, ready to accuse him of sexual advancements, even if there are none, to keep him in step. Samuel Maria Gomez’s Rafael knows the ropes and he is aiming for a better life, especially if he can convince Ayanna Bria Bakari’s Letitia of his genuine love and concern for her and her sick child Carmen.

Who will win the battle of wits as Clyde exudes her power and control over all their fates, not allowing their dreams to be given a glimmer of hope? Could she be the Devil as she plays master puppeteer with their uncertain lives? Will the proper and perfect set of ingredients ever be combined to elicit bliss to the palate and sundry senses?

For tickets ($25 and up), call TheaterWorks Hartford, 233 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at Performances are Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Come early to view CHOW, a series of artwork by inmates about their last meal before incarceration and their first meal after being released.

Fair warning: Don’t come hungry!