January 23, 2017

How to Use a Knife

I've always been fascinated by the world of restaurant kitchens. The Phoenix Theatre's latest show, How to Use a Knife, takes you behind the scenes and into that frantic world. During open hours things move fast for the chef and his crew. After the restaurant is closed we're able to learn a bit more about the broken man running his employees so hard.

Chef George, played by Ryan Artzberger, is an addict who has fallen from his former glory. The performance reminded me a bit of Artzberger's turn as the cynic Simon Stimson in Our Town at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. The character has the same tone of disillusion and disgust. Ansley Valentine plays Steve, a quiet dishwasher with a mysterious past. He is a tireless workers who isn't interested in small talk.

Bryan Fonseca's direction keeps the show moving at a clipped pace, keeping the audience fully engaged. The casual banter between coworkers feels natural and the set itself feels like an actual restaurant kitchen, complete with a grill, working sinks, and safety signs. The tone of the play shifts dramatically as teasing turns to talk of the Rwandan genocide.

At the show's conclusion it was impossible not to consider how little we know about the experiences of those around us. Without talking to them about their lives it's far too easy to dismiss them based on prejudice, assumption, or ignorance. Whether it's incorrectly guessing someone's ethnicity or underestimating the pain that they've experienced, there's so much to be gained from opening the doors of conversation.

 
Don't Miss the Show
For more information about the Phoenix Theatre, visit www.phoenixtheatre.org. The theater is located at 749 N. Park Ave., Indianapolis, just off Massachusetts Ave. 

Performances: The show runs until Feb. 12 and offers four performances a week. Thursdays begin at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturdays begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. 

Tickets: To purchase tickets, call (317) 635-7529 or visit phoenixtheatre.org. Prices range from $27 to $33.

Photos courtesy of the Phoenix Theatre.

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