Almost everyone loves a good sandwich. They are simple by definition, but come in endless shapes, sizes, and variations. Almost any ingredient can be incorporated into one, but not every combination works well. There is underlying structure but they can be as chaotic as one dares to dream.
In other words, they are the perfect tool for discussing life, loss, and love. In Lynn Nottage’s play “Clydes”, which Mark Taper Walks Into The Forum Through December 18, the search for the perfect sandwich is throughline on a journey that pits the formerly incarcerated kitchen staff in a modest sandwich shop against the vicious Clyde (played by Temberla Perry) in a darkly comic battle. Runs the place.
The play features detailed – overly detailed – and fanciful descriptions of different sandwiches, often spoken by characters like a recitative, lost in ideal flavor combinations: a tuna melt with sliced lemongrass and basil on toasted black rye. ; Maine Lobster on a potato roll with truffle mayo, caramelized fennel and a touch of dill; Sautéed Skirt Steak with Peach Chutney on a Cheddar Biscuit.
If you’re drooling while reading these descriptions, that’s it. They, and others, punctuate the action of the play in which the kitchen staff struggle under the thumb of Clyde, an unforgiving (but very well-dressed) woman who makes their lives hell. Sandwich Reveries are a way for the staff to escape Clyde’s abuse, but also carry a deeper significance about redemption and beginnings.
As you might guess, Nottage, a two-time Pulitzer-winning playwright, enjoys a good sandwich. “I love that it’s a common, ubiquitous food that when mastered can have extraordinary culinary results,” says Nottage. “I like that it lends itself to invention.”
As a child, Nottage would eat sandwiches prepared by his father, an ardent devotee of the form. “My father, the kind of adventurous cook that he was, was always striving to make something unusual,” says Nottage. And some of his father’s joys don’t necessarily translate well to the school lunchbox — like a jiggly hunk of head cheese.
“One of his favorites was, like, liverwurst and pickles,” she says. Was he also a favorite of Nottage? “It wasn’t at all,” she says, laughing.
And even though that sometimes meant he couldn’t trade Nottage sandwiches with the other kids at school, the care and attention was important. “I think it had a lot to do with expressing their creativity and love in relation to food,” she says.
“This man loved his sandwiches. He was very conscious of his sandwich-making practice.
One of the characters in “Clydes,” a man named Montrelas, is something of a wise sandwich sage of production: a compassionate teacher to the other cooks in the kitchen, creative and self-realized in his technique and ingredient selection. “Montreal’s has some of my father’s DNA,” says Nottage.
“Clyde,” which is a American Theater magazine survey said What will be the most produced play of the 2022-2023 season and the most produced playwright, demands a lot of food preparation and assembly from its actors. It’s a layer of complexity that most dramas don’t have to deal with. (LA-based chef Notsha Butler Production is credited with creating the special sandwich.)
After such a food-intensive show “a week of rehearsal adds up,” says production director Kate Whoriskey. Actors have to learn the skill of knife-wielding. Not only that, but the characters’ knife skills have to be improved during the play.
“You have to say this monologue and make sure the tomato is cut by this point,” she explains, and if something goes wrong—like a stray tomato—it can shut down the whole show.
Whorysky, who once worked as a server, praised the simplicity of the sandwich, saying, “Restaurants with Michelin stars often exclude a lot of people. The sandwich is something everyone has access to.” .
She says a personal favorite of hers was a soft shell crab sandwich with Sriracha mayonnaise. For her part, Nottage says she loves a classic grilled cheese cooked in a cast iron skillet. Which makes sense — a grilled cheese happens to be the first sandwich ever mentioned on the show.
Where: Center Theater Group Mark Taper Forum, 135 N Grand Ave, LA
When:8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 6:30 Sunday. Will end on 18 December. (Call for exceptions.)
Ticket: $35-$120 (subject to change)
information: (213) 628-2772 orcentertheatregroup.org
running time:1 hour, 30 minutes, without intermission
COVID Protocol:Masks are strongly recommended.