Friday, April 28, 2023

My review of the "God Of Carnage"

A long-awaited return of God of Carnage

God of Carnage is a play about the perils of modern relationships in an age of unique issues coupled with old problems. Although it is ostensibly about 2 sets of parents who are meeting due to their children’s fight, it dissolves into something more nuanced and a lot louder. Arguments and disagreements pop up between the married couples, between men and women, and between expectations of acceptable behavior.

The four leads are excellent: David Burtka, Carey Cox, Gabe Fazio and Christina Noll. Carey Cox in particular sneaks up on you with a performance that is seemingly nervous and mousey until she explodes later in the play. The women have the meatier roles here and they relish them, Christiana Noll in particular.

Gabe Fazio, Cary Cox, David Burtka and Christiana Noll
with subtitles projected on the back wall.

The story follows Alan and Annette (Burtka and Cox) as they visit with Michael and Veronica (Fazio and Noll). Alan and Annette’s son Benjamin struck Michael and Veronica’s son Henry with a stick. Benjamin broke two of Henry’s teeth and the parents are trying to resolve the situation in an inclusive manner. All 4 are yuppie parents with prestigious jobs, except Michael, who is a self-made wholesaler of kitchen goods. Veronica takes the lead in trying to resolve the issue of the boy’s fight, dominating the early going.

A solution appears easy, until Veronica insists that Benjamin apologize for hitting Henry. This goes well, until Veronica demands not just an apology, but a sincere apology from Benjamin. When Alan and Annette explain that Benjamin thinks he was justified by the actions of Henry. Alan agrees that there may be blame on both sides, much to Veronica’s annoyance.  Worse, her husband Michael seems to agree with Alan. 

As the situation continues, a shifting set of relationships dominate different moments. At times the men agree with each other as the women do the same. At times the couples agree within their marriages. And then it all changes again. The adults in God of Carnage act like children fighting between each other, complete with shifting allegiances and inexplicable outbursts.

There are problems with God Of Carnage that this production cannot fix. The play starts slowly, builds over time, and then just ends. Perhaps this is an analogy for the unfinished business of being human, but it still is unsatisfying.

The play is produced as part of The Breaking Trough Barriers theater group. TBTB is an off-Broadway theater company that is dedicated to advancing the work of professional artists with disabilities. One extremely affecting part of their presentation is the use of subtitles for the hearing impaired. These are projected on the back wall which is made up of uneven bright red rectangles. It is a great job, but it takes a little getting used to for people who are not hearing impaired. 

Written by Yasmina Reza and translated by Christopher Hampton, God Of Carnage is still fresh even though it premiered on Broadway 14 years ago. Director Nicholas Viselli has brought an excellent production team and actors back to for this play off-Broadway. It is a story that is universal, updated to be more accessible.

God of Carnage
PlaywrightYasmina Reza (translation Christopher Hampton) | DirectorNicholas Viselli | CastDavid Burtka, Cary Cox, Gabe Fazio, Christiane Noll

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