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Curtain Rises: All the world’s a mirror in NCC comedy

The Northampton Community College Theatre Department presents the Lehigh Valley premiere of the dark comedy, “The Food Chain,” Nov. 17-21, Norman Roberts Lab Theatre, main campus, Bethlehem Township.

“The Food Chain,” written by Nicky Silver, tackles self-image and acceptance, and the sense of desperation can result from a lack of self-esteem.

“Silver’s philosophy of mixing his message with a heavy dose of absurd character-based humor makes for a heavy-hitting comedy that sheds light on the darker side of our insecurities and coping mechanisms,” says the play’s director and NCC Theater Department Head Bill Mutimer.

In Silver’s toxic tale of sex, loneliness and the importance of being thin, the pursuit of love is an even more convoluted process than usual. For the poisonously funny, image-obsessed Manhattanites in the play, all the world’s a mirror.

Amanda (Amelia Illingworth) is an an anorexic poet who has been married for three weeks, but her husband Ford (Aidan King), has been missing for two.

She calls a crisis hotline and reaches Bea (Trish Kane Steele), who complains about her own problems.

Across town, Serge (Danny Rowe), a vain runway model, is waiting for a date when Otto (Kareem Johnson) shows up at his door.

The two scenarios crash together unexpectedly and all the characters are surprisingly connected.

Silver’s work has been described as in the tradition of dark farce like those created by gay playwrights such as Oscar Wilde, Joe Orton and Christopher Durang.

The show debuted in 1994 at the Wooly Mammoth Theater, Washington, D.C.

Silver, a Philadelphia native, says his “first real break came when the artistic director of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre happened to walk in and saw ‘Fat Man in Skirts.’”

Several of Silver’s plays premiered at Woolly Mammoth, including “Free Will” and “Wanton Lust.”

Many of his plays were produced off-off-Broadway at the Vortex Theatre, New York City, and Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre and Playwrights Horizons.

“The Food Chain” ran Off-Broadway 1995 - 1996, Westside Theatre, with a cast that featured Hope Davis, Patrick Fabian, Phyllis Newman and Tom McGowan, the latter winning an Obie Award.

Silver wrote a new book for the Broadway revival of the Rodgers and Hart musical, “The Boys from Syracuse,” and his first Broadway show, “The Lyons.”

“The Food Chain,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17 - 19, 21; 2 p.m. Nov. 20, Norman Roberts Lab Theatre, Northampton Comunity College, main campus, Bethlehem Township. Tickets: 484-484-3412; www.ncctix.org. Seating is general admission.

“Curtain Rises” is a column about the theater, stage shows, the actors in them and the directors and artists who make them happen. To request coverage, email: Paul Willistein, Focus editor, pwillistein@tnonline.com.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO From left: Amelia Illingworth, Trish Kane Steele, Kareem Johnson,”The Food Chain,” Northampton Community College Theatre Department.