Review: How to Use a Knife

“You let go first.”

“You let go first.”

Photo courtesy of Capital stage

7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday; $23-$40. Capital Stage, 2215 J Street; (916) 995-5464; Through October 2.
Rated 5.0

Here’s a tip: Do not Google the play How to Use a Knife. Instead of finding information on this particular piece of work, you’ll instead dig up details on safe kitchen procedures, how to play mumbletypeg—oh, and some pretty disturbing stuff about knife play as an erotic exercise. Don’t go there.

The play How To Use a Knife is about none of that—not even the safety in the kitchen stuff, really. Playwright Will Snider’s production is set entirely within the kitchen of a Wall Street restaurant but it isn’t really about food service—it’s all about secrets and lies.

A chef, two hilariously trash-talking line cooks and a curiously quiet dishwasher all have things to hide and good reasons not to reveal them. Chief secret keepers are Chef George (a perfectly cast Harry Harris, looking as dissolute as the character he plays) and dishwasher Steve (Adrian Roberts, bringing mystery to the man who asks for instruction on knife use but seems to have an excellent grasp of it already). George and Steve share painful secrets they swear not to reveal, but there comes a time when anger and grief have to burst forth. Director Michael Stevenson adroitly syncs the action to the pace of the kitchen: full-speed chaotic rushes punctuated by quieter down times. The remaining cast—Willem Long and Eduardo A. Esqueda as cooks Carlos and Miguel, respectively; Kirk Blackinton as clueless restaurant owner Michael; Cole Winslow as busboy and food-runner Jack; and Kelley Ogden as no-nonsense immigration investigator Kim—is uniformly excellent.