The Food Chain | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Food Chain 

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THE FOOD CHAIN, Organic Theater Company. Nicky Silver pretends to be an angry cutting-edge iconoclast, but in reality he's just the baby boomers' Ray Cooney, a writer of reasonably funny, sometimes politically incisive farce: Silver would never in a million years ruffle his audience's sensibilities. So you'd think that William Pullinsi, who staged so many Cooney comedies for his own late, lamented Candlelight's Forum Theatre, would be the perfect director for Silver's The Food Chain.

You'd be wrong. For whatever reason, Pullinsi can't seem to direct comedy anymore. His version of David Ives's Mere Mortals at the Organic last season was dreary indeed. And he makes a hash of Silver's eccentric but essentially crowd-pleasing dark comedy, accentuating the serious side of a sometimes bleak play and allowing the actors to either overplay the comedy (as Dale Calandra does) or underplay it to the point that it's hard to tell if Silver is being funny or not.

Yet somehow The Food Chain survives. For one thing, Pullinsi has managed to pull together a pretty good cast, led by the superbly funny Renee Matthews. And Silver's script is so strong at times--some of the play's monologues are so beautifully written--that I just closed my eyes and let his words wash over me.

--Jack Helbig

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