Entering into the theatre with ticket in hand, a theatregoer suddenly walks into the back wall of a basic, steak-and-hamburger kitchen with pots and pans stacked on metallic shelves. Instantly, once the lights go to black, the entire premise that one is sitting in a theatre is gone.
When the doors in the center of the stage swing open and in enter the first two characters one meets, Carlos and Miguel, the stage is transformed into a kitchen with real pizza and sloshing water.
For the rest of the hour and forty minute performance there is no intermission or break from the scenes unfolding. The viewer is like a fly on the wall to the happenings inside the kitchen, getting a glimpse into the lives of seven characters.
The plot is begun when Michael, the owner of the establishment, introduces a new Chef to his staff, George. Once successful in the culinary world, George lost his rank in the career ladder to addiction and is dropped into a kitchen with Guatemalan line cooks who shoot Spanish throughout the show as flawlessly as English, a short tempered busboy, and an East African dishwasher who’s quiet enough to arouse curiosity.
At first, George seems like he may shout some abusive sense into the kitchen and improve the restaurant, but when an immigration worker shows up it’s clear the plot isn’t really involved in the kitchen at all, but that it’s merely our setting.
With a heavy hand of ruckus mimicking the true bluster and noise of a kitchen and enough hurled insults to make Gordon Ramsey proud, more night shifts are worked and the plot thickens up to a climax that had half the set torn down and spilling across the stage.
On opening night, September 28, the play had audience members fluctuating from a focused silence to a barking, sudden laughter right from the gut as Chef George shot another zinger at whoever is underperforming most in the kitchen.
Though, as much humor as it holds, the play aims at something darker and more serious throughout the cultural clash of characters and the internal battles in some of them.
Anyone looking to attend Mixed Blood’s performance of “How to Use a Knife” during its run from September 29 to October 15 should remember they practice radical hospitality, meaning tickets can be received for free on a first come, first served basis or reserved online or by phone for $25.