If there were a Zagat’s guide to the Sydney Arts Scene, Clyde’s at Ensemble Theatre would be at the top of the recommendations list.
Ensemble Theatre, known for producing great plays, has outdone itself with its latest offering, Clyde’s. This Tony-nominated play has everything you want from live theatre, a great cast, a hilarious script, and lots of heart.
Clyde’s, by Lynn Nottage, is set in a small sandwich shop along a Pennsylvania highway, where the formerly incarcerated staff trade recipes for their dream sandwiches. The menacing owner, Clyde, looms in the background, and her occasional kitchen cameos strike terror in the employees’ hearts. Jason, a newcomer covered in white supremacist tattoos, joins the diverse team but struggles to adjust, causing tension among the employees.
I love a well-designed static set, and I’m always surprised how Ensemble’s designers can use the space so effectively. Designer Simone Romaniuk put just enough detail into the scene for it to feel familiar without it being cluttered and allowed room for the action to occur. Director Darren Yap created magic on stage through his skillfully naturalistic direction turning these actors into a believable group of cons. Each creative choice perfectly meshed with the nuanced portrayals of complex characters allowing the audience to connect with each of the characters personally.
This production deserves to be critically acclaimed for many reasons, but the highlight was the insanely talented ensemble, featuring perfectly cast actors; Charles Allen (Montrellous), Gabriel Alvarado (Rafael), Nancy Denis (Clyde), Aaron Tsindos (Jason), and Ebony Vagulans (Letitia). Each actor embodied their character, capturing the Clyde’s crew’s struggle, resilience, and hope. So clever are their portrayals that it was difficult to tell if the audience’s tears were of joy or devastation.
This gripping and thought-provoking theatrical experience will undoubtedly be the highlight of the 2023 Sydney Theatre season. Get inside, out of the cold and warm up with this must-see for theatre lovers.
– The other Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig is an international performer and has established himself as a trusted theatre specialist on the Sydney Arts Scene. While he understands the technical side of theatre, Dan writes for the everyday theatregoer (unlike some of those more prominent publications). When not in the audience, he loves to travel the world trying new gin. Follow him on all the socials @talldancraig
Clyde’s runs for 90 mins (no interval) and plays at Ensemble Theatre through 10 June 2023. Tickets are available through the Ensemble Theatre Box Office.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were guests of Kabuku PR.
Image credit: Prudence Upton.