BWW Reviews: GOD OF CARNAGE Makes You Squirm While You Laugh
Two young boys get into a fight on the playground. Their parents meet to talk it out. Then four grown adults use their words to tear the flesh off each other. Welcome to God of Carnage currently playing at Everyman Theatre's new location at 315 W. Fayette Street.
The premise of the play is simple - two couples meet to talk about a fight between their boys. It should be simple, civilized and reaffirming. Unfortunately, it all goes to hell. Quickly. What begins as a simple get acquainted encounter turns into a full on bar room brawl. The couples fight over responsible parenting, marital relationships, goals and dreams, and savagery versus civility. They are clearly doomed from their first "hellos."
The genius of this play by Yasmina Reza is that this spiral downwards all occurs in 85 minutes. It's a wild ride that has you gripping your seat as insult after insult is flung back and forth across the stage like a sports team passing the ball back and forth with grit and determination.
The other genius of this play is that it's funny, disturbingly funny.
Alan, played with great animation by Tim Getman, and Annette, played with great intensity by Megan Anderson, are highly focused professionals whose son was the aggressor in the fight. They are initially penitent as they review the fight with Veronica, played to type by Deborah Hazlett, and Michael, played with forceful humanity by Christopher Bloch, whose son is the victim. Michael owns and operates a domestic hardware store and Deborah works part time in an art store and writes. These two high strung couples are at odds from the get go, but try heroically to get through their awkward situation. However, their worlds collide almost instantly and within a short period of time partner rails against partner and the women join forces against the men and, in the end, everyone ends up worn to the bone by the attempt to be congenial and effective problem-solving adults.
What makes it so funny is that you recognize these characters from your own life experiences. If you are married or in a long term relationship, you recognize the arguments between husband and wife. You recognize the insults being thrown about and you cringe at the comments that take the encounter over the edge. The conversation is absurd, but so true. The situation is funny, but a little bit disturbing.
When Alan, played with gritty indifference by Tim Getman, takes phone call after phone call from work, you want to toss the guy out the window. When Michael, played convincingly by Christopher Bloch, begins to reveal his true self, you cheer for him. When he yells out, "I am a Neanderthal," you laugh out loud. When Veronica, addressing Alan's cynicism, yells, "I stand for up for civilization," you shake your head because you've met this woman before in your life. When Annette decides she's had enough of Alan's phone calls, you give her a high five approval. Etiquette my ass. Let it rip.
Who knew bitterness and betrayal could be so much fun to watch?
God of Carnage runs through April 7. Order tickets through www.everymantheatre.org. Parking is right across the street from the theater and Charm City Gourmet's food truck is at the entrance for pre-show dining with bistro style seating inside the theater. Happy hour starts one hour before the show and is available one hour after as well.
From This Author Lori Weglein