‘Clyde’s’ exudes resilience, comedy and power on New Brunswick stage | Review


"Clyde's," now on stage at George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick. (T Charles Erickson)


Playwright Lynn Nottage is a poet of the downtrodden. Whether her focus is prostitutes in a war zone, blue-collar workers vulnerable to corporate greed, a modest seamstress with dreams of love and independence, or even an elephant exploited by poachers, Nottage’s work — winner of two Pulitzer Prizes — is fascinated by the resilience of stubborn and often righteous dignity in the face of oppressive forces.

In her latest play, “Clyde’s,” now receiving a vibrant production under the direction of Melissa Maxwell at New Brunswick’s George Street Playhouse, Nottage revisits these themes with a view to one of society’s most overlooked and disrespected populations: the formerly incarcerated. But “Clyde’s” also shows Nottage turning deftly to a less familiar mode for her: comedy. “Clyde’s” in fact finds what is often an elusive sweet spot cohabitated by funny and poignant. Nottage shows us four characters vying to get their lives in some semblance of order, and invites us to laugh along with them in their moments of joy as we also offer them our empathy in moments of struggle.

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