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Characters

Clyde - The owner of the shop. She is a tyrant, creating a hostile environment. Fabulous and mean at the same time. She is compared to a devil several times.
Montrellous - A sandwich making zen master. He is a mentor to the other crew members. He is compared several times as an angel figure.
Letitia - Goes by Tish, has a kid who needs medical care.
Rafael - held up a bank while drugged out.
Jason - new to the shop. Incarcerated for aggravated assault. Has many visible gang tattoos

Setting

A sandwich shop along a trucking route in Pennsylvania.

Clyde's

Scene 1 - Clyde and Montrellous are talking alone in the kitchen. Though we don't understand what they are talking about at the moment, Montrellous has just told Clyde the reason he was incarcerated. Clyde replies with hostility, asking if she was hoping for a sympathetic reaction. Clyde talks about how getting emotional doesn't do any good. She said if she had been in his situation she would have just walked away. She demonstrates this by walking away and dropping her cigarette into a grate which catches on fire as she walks out.

Scene 2 - We meet Rafael and Letitia, they are two high energy workers. Letitia, who goes by Trish, does sandwich prep and Rafel is a sou-chef. They talk and we see examples of how Clyde makes a hostile work environment, keeping them in a state of fear. Jason enters, he is new and says he was trained over the weekend by Montrellous. They instantly judge him on his gang tattoos.

Scene 3 - Later on, Jason is making a sandwich and licks his fingers before adding toppings. Tish calls him out and they get into a verbal fight. She asks him about his gang tattoos that cover his body. After they disengage, she points out that he has been putting the wrong sauce on a sandwich, she said Clyde would fire him for that. Jason rises above the situation and asks for help and they instruct. They say not to smile because Clyde does not like to see people happy.

Scene 4 - Jason is late to work because he had to walk because he couldn't afford gas. Clyde comes back to the kitchen to see why it's slow. She goes on an almost psychotic tirade, jumping between being mad, laughing, insisting that she’s joking then bating and pushing their buttons. She leaves, Jason asks why she is like she is. Rafael shares that she does get physical and shows a big bruise on his side. Tish enters late because she couldn't find a sitter for her daughter. She had to leave her with her ex who should not have custody. She tries to call to check in but no one picks up. Rafael has everyone try his new sandwich idea. Everyone gives mediocre reviews. Rafael is upset, his desire is to make that perfect sandwich.

Scene 5 - All 4 chefs are working at the prep table. They are all talking about sandwich ideas. Clyde enters looking for a sandwich and ends the discussion

Scene 6- Clyde is supervising their food delivery. Jason notices that the items are very luxury quality for a little roadside sandwich shop and asks if it’s legal. Clyde shuts him down and leaves. Rafael shares about how he was incarcerated. He held up a bank with a BB gun while high. Rafael gets a call on his phone, it is Tish’s ex, Pete. She makes sure that he’s feeding their daughter. She hangs up, stressed out. Rafael mentions that he would be a better man for her, Tish laughs it off. Tish and Rafael question Jason again about why he was locked up. When he deflects they try a new tactic of saying that Montrellous has encouraged everyone to speak their truth and then get on with the work. Tish shares that she was locked up because she broke into a pharmacy to steal seizure medication for her daughter. Jason says that he got really mad and hurt some people very badly, but doesn't want to say more beyond that.

Scene 7- Montrellous is showing everyone a new sandwich he is working on and everyone raves about it. Montrellous talks about the sandwich as a zen artist and inspires everyone in the kitchen to make sandwiches like an artist, and to be proud and present in their work. It comes up that Montrellous is seeing a new lady friend. He talks about how much he loves her optimism. Montrellous takes a break and Jason asks Tish and Rafael why he did time. They say no one knows. Rafael insists that he went to prison on principle “to meet the evil head on” He talks about Montrellous in terms of being a savior saying “his sandwiches even makes believers of the most jaded vegans” He then compares her to Clyde who he suspects sold her soul to the devil for this joint, saying that he has never seen her eat. Clyde enters the kitchen to see why it's so quiet. Tish tells her that Montrellous left some of the sandwich for her to try. Clyde seems drawn to it but then says she has acid reflux. Everyone talks about their dating lives. Montrellous comes back from break and offers that last little bit of the sandwich. He tries to entice her by remembering a time that her mother made something wonderful like tomato soup and how comforting it was. That causes Clyde to have an triggering moment thinking about her mother and she dumps the last of the sandwich in the sink and attacks Montrellous’ zen lesson saying it is no way to survive. In a tense moment she leaves. Rafael and Jason insist that she is the devil. Tish stands up for Clyde saying if she was a man, they would have no problem with her. Montrellous seconds that saying that being in person has been hard for all of them, Clyde included.

Scene 8- Tish unveils her new sandwich for tasting. It is not good. Tish breaks down and tosses it in the trash. She explodes from the pressure of life. Montrellous calms her down, once again inspiring that the most simple things can give a sense of joy and purpose. Rafael asks Tish if she wants to celebrate her birthday with her. He wants to take her out on a date. She laughs and agrees.

Scene 9- Clyde enters with 15 lbs of sea bass. She gives it to Rafael to use even though he said it smells. Jason comes in late. Clyde and Jason get in a verbal fight. Clyde puts him down saying they should all be lucky that this place is there for them. Montrellous enters and de-escalates the situation. Clyde leaves. They get back to work. Rafael and Tish react to the fight and Jason mentions that he is homeless and camps in the woods. Tish gives a great speech about relating the gravitational pull of black holes to the people and situations trying to trigger bad choices.

Scene 10 - The kitchen is humming, everyone is in the zone with latin salsa music playing, even dancing while they work, til Clyde comes in and ends the fun. Montrellous comes in with the paper and has Clyde look at page five. A shout out to the shop is in the paper. Everyone is thrilled except Clyde, who doesn't want it to go to their head. Montrellous says this is an opportunity to put them on the map, Clyde sees it as a blimp in a free newspaper that homeless people read. When Montrellous asks why she won't let them have this little bit of joy, she replies that they will never be more than ex-cons that are making sandwiches. After she leaves, even Montrellous is unhopeful which shakes everyone else. They look to him but he is out of inspirational advice.

Scene 11- Jason presents Montrellous with his sandwich creation. He says it's not ready yet but is encouraging. Jason gives Montrellous the article framed. Montrellous is touched and hangs it up. Jason opens up about hating seeing the tattoos on his face and how hard it is transitioning back to life. Jason opens up about how he let out his anger after losing his job and beat someone with a baseball bat. He hugs Montrellous. Tish comes in, excited that it is her birthday. Rafael comes in very agitated. He reminds Tish that they were supposed to be on a date last night and she forgot. He even bought her chocolates. Tish apologies saying she thought he was joking. He says he is offering her a real relationship. She fights back saying that she doesn't want a real relationship. Tish realizes that Rafael is high, he has started using. Tish is devastated that she is the reason he used. She hugs and kisses him saying she doesn't know how to be loved like that.

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The Ending - Spoilers Ahead

Scene 12-  When an order comes through with a substitution, Montrellous refuses to make the change and compromise the integrity of the sandwich. This opens a fight between him and Clyde over the direction of the shop, to put the little extras and special ingredients that make the sandwiches great or Clyde’s belief that it doesn't matter and the truckers will be happy with kraft cheese on wonder bread. Clyde says the shop is in debt and once again states that they are all ex-cons and not to hope for more. Rafael and Tish defend themselves that they are proud of their work. Clyde says she has no hesitations of firing them all and leaves. As the crew calms down, they ask Montrellous about why he was in jail. He tells the backstory of his brother who was smart and got accepted to Harvard medical school on a full scholarship. One of his new preppy white friends asked him to hold a duffle bag overnight and deliver it to a store the next day, his brother didn't give it a second thought, just trying to be helpful. When he got there police officers were waiting and the bag was filled with drugs. He was put in prison. Montrellous was so mad about the situation and since he didn't have much potential going on in his life, he went in, and took the blame and served the sentence so that his brother could thrive. His brother is now working with doctors without borders, saving lives. The other crew members are amazed, saying they could never be that good. Montrellous says “you can, you must not be afraid of the big choices”. Clydes comes in asking for the sandwich with the substitution which is for one of her investors. Montrellous refuses to make it. They are in a standoff, She goes to Rafael, Jason and Tish one by one. They all refuse to make it. Clyde adds the relish and walks out saying they are all replaceable. The room is quiet. Montrellous leaves the sandwich he was preparing and steps outside of the cafe setting, he leaves. One by one each member adds an ingredient to the sandwich and also leaves, leaving one perfect sandwich. Clyde comes back into the kitchen to deal with her crew and finds everyone gone. She is still until she sees the sandwich. She sits to take a bite. Right before she does, the kitchen erupts with fire. Clyde smiles and the lights go out.

  • By Lynn Nottage

    Lynn Nottage is a playwright and a screenwriter. She is the first, and remains the only, woman to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice. Her plays have been produced widely in the United States and throughout the world. She is currently an artist-in-residence at the Park Avenue Armory.

    Playwright's Website 
  • More plays by Lynn Nottage:

    Ruined
    Intimate Apparel
    Sweat
    By the Way, Meet Vera Stark
    MJ! The Musical
    Crumbs from the Table of Joy