Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

Arden Theatre Company
Review by Rebecca Rendell

Also see Rebecca's review of Kiss

Tiffany Barrett and J. Hernandez
Photo by Ashley Smith, Wide Eyed Studios
Now in production at Arden Theatre Company, Clyde's is all about finding inspiration, beauty and humor in unexpected places. Line cook Montrellous (Walter DeShields) finds inspiration in the sandwiches he makes for the truckers who come through his shop. Much abused Rafael (J. Hernandez) and single mother Letitia (Kishia Nixon) find the beauty in each other. And celebrated playwright Lynn Nottage finds warm humor in a story about a truck stop with questionable mafia connections, an abusive owner, and overworked ex-convicts. It is a refreshing story, a poignant comedy, and genuinely good time.

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, call 215-922-1122, or visit the box office at The Arden Theatre Company.

Tiffany Barrett: Clyde
Walter DeShields: Montrellous
J. Hernandez: Rafael
Kishia Nixon: Letitia
Brian Cowden: Jason

Director: Malika Oyetimein
Assistant Director: Taylor J. Mitchell
Set Designer: Kyu Shin
Costume Designer: Ilycia Buffaloe
Lighting Designer: J. Dominic Chacon
Sound Designer: Stephon Dorsey
Stage Manager: Alec E. Ferrell
Assistant to the Stage: Manager Katie Meade