Will Snider’s 2016 play is an intriguing, thought-provoking study of the unlikely friendship that develops between two men working in a restaurant in Lower Manhattan’s financial district. George, the eatery’s new executive chef, is a foul-mouthed, middle-aged, white guy with anger and guilt issues: he’s a recovering alcoholic and drug addict trying to get his life and career back on track. Steve, the dishwasher, is a quiet black man from East Africa who keeps to himself, focuses on his job, and speaks no English—or so it appears at first. As the pair forge a camaraderie amid the chaos of the kitchen, we learn they share a common skill: expertise with a bare blade. George was a skilled food preparer before substance abuse took its toll, and Steve was a soldier in the Rwandan civil war of the 1990s. Eventually, it turns out that Steve may also be a hunted war criminal.
Developed through the National New Play Network, How to Use a Knife is receiving its Chicago premiere from Shattered Globe Theatre under the direction of Sandy Shinner, whose well-acted staging benefits from the realistic kitchen set designed by Jeff Bauer. Peter DeFaria and Anthony Irons are excellent as George and Steve; so are Victor Maraña and Dennis García as the antic line cooks, Dillon Kelleher as the harried busboy, Brad Woodard as the obnoxious restaurant owner, and Michelle Bester as the immigration official prying into Steve’s past. v