Nearly everybody loves a superb sandwich. They are easy, by definition, however are available countless sizes, shapes and variations. Just about any ingredient might be included into one, however not each mixture works nicely. There is inherent construction however they are often as chaotic as one dares to dream.
They are an ideal system, in different phrases, to debate life, loss and love. In Lynn Nottage’s play “Clyde’s,” which runs on the Mark Taper Discussion board by means of Dec. 18, the search for the proper sandwich is the throughline on a journey that pits previously incarcerated kitchen employees at a modest sandwich store in opposition to the vicious Clyde (performed by Tamberla Perry), who runs the place, in a darkly comedian battle.
The play options detailed — extremely detailed — and fantastical descriptions of various sandwiches, typically spoken by characters like a recitative, misplaced in splendid taste mixtures: A tuna soften with chopped lemongrass and basil on toasted black rye; Maine lobster on a potato roll with truffle mayo, caramelized fennel and a contact of dill; sauteed skirt steak with peach chutney on a cheddar biscuit.
In the event you’re salivating whereas studying these descriptions, that’s the purpose. These, and others, punctuate the motion of the play through which the kitchen employees wrestle underneath the thumb of Clyde, the unforgiving (however very well-dressed) lady who makes their lives hell. The sandwich reveries are a manner for the employees to flee Clyde’s abuse but additionally tackle a deeper significance about redemption and beginning over.
Nottage, the two-time Pulitzer-winning playwright, occurs to take pleasure in a superb sandwich, as you would possibly guess. “I like that it’s an ordinary, ubiquitous food that when mastered could have extraordinary culinary outcomes,” Nottage says. “I like that it lends itself to invention.”
As a child, Nottage would eat sandwiches ready by her father, who was an enthusiastic devotee of the shape. “My father, being the kind of adventurous cook that he was, always endeavored to make something slightly unusual,” Nottage says. And a few of her father’s joys didn’t essentially translate nicely to the varsity lunchbox — like a jiggly hunk of head cheese.
“One of his favorites was, like, liverwurst and pickles,” she says. Was that additionally Nottage’s favourite? “It absolutely was not,” she says, laughing.
And regardless that it typically meant Nottage couldn’t commerce sandwiches with the opposite children in school, the care and a focus was what was essential. “I think his creativity and relation to food was very much about expressing love,” she says.
“This man loved his sandwiches. He was so mindful of his practice making his sandwiches.”
One of many characters in “Clyde’s,” a person named Montrellous, is one thing of the sensible sandwich sage of the manufacturing: A form instructor to the opposite cooks within the kitchen, artistic and self-realized in his approach and ingredient choice. “There’s some of my father’s DNA in Montrellous,” says Nottage.
“Clyde’s,” which an American Theater journal survey stated can be probably the most produced play of the 2022-2023 season and Nottage probably the most produced playwright, calls for loads of meals prep and meeting from its actors. It’s a layer of complexity most performs don’t must cope with. (L.A.-based chef Notasha Butler is credited with making specialty sandwiches for the manufacturing.)
Having such a food-intensive present “adds a week of rehearsal,” the manufacturing’s director, Kate Whoriskey, says. Actors must be taught knife expertise. Not solely that, however the characters’ knife expertise have to enhance over the course of the play.
“You have to say this monologue and make sure the tomato gets cut by this point,” she explains, and if one thing goes flawed — like a stray tomato — it will probably throw off the entire present.
Whoriskey, who as soon as labored as a server, praised the simplicity of the sandwich, saying, “Restaurants that have Michelin stars are often excluding a lot of people. Sandwiches are something that everyone has access to.”
She says certainly one of her private favorites was a comfortable shell crab sandwich with sriracha mayonnaise. Nottage, for her half, says she loves a traditional grilled cheese cooked in a forged iron skillet. Which is smart — a grilled cheese occurs to be the primary sandwich talked about within the present.
The place: Middle Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Discussion board, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2:30 and eight p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays. Ends Dec. 18. (Name for exceptions.)
Tickets: $35-$120 (topic to alter)
Data: (213) 628-2772 or centertheatregroup.org
Working time: 1 hour, half-hour, with no intermission
COVID protocol: Masks are strongly really helpful.