BWW Reviews GOD OF CARNAGE at The Spotlighters
"It has been said that civilization is twenty-four hours and two meals away from barbarism." Neil Gaiman
The brutal immaturity of adults often makes for savagely good entertainment. This is the case with the Spotlighters' sharply produced version of the dark comedy, "God of Carnage" by Yasmina Reza. Rather like an accident you can't stop looking at, the living room meeting of civilized adults turns out to be no better than the playground altercation between their children.
Veronica and Michael's eleven year old son gets whacked in the head by Alan and Annette's eleven year old son. They are going to deal with this politely with political correctness. It doesn't take long for the polished surface of good behavior to crack up and disintegrate. In the end, we are all seeing pieces of ourselves and our best intentions scattered on the hard, cold floor.
The quartets of actors energetically apply themselves to this downward spiral of civility. Dan Collins is spot-on as Alan, the pretentious lawyer whose cell phone is attached to his ear while his ethics hang by a thread. Margaret Condon falls apart beautifully as Annette, who starts out prim and ends up decidedly improper. Michael Tan revels in finding his inner Neanderthal as Michael, the working-class man's man with an unfortunate hamster phobia. Holly E. Gibbs bites into her character with gusto as Veronica, whose high ideals do not prevent her from brawling when necessary.
The Spotlighters make good use of their space with this exceptionally detailed set by Alan Zemla. Just as the play distills human behavior down to its most basic level, the entire production team (including Amy Bell, costume designer, Becky Miller, stage manager, and Fuzz Roark, lighting and sound design) know how to focus in on the theme and characters within the confines of space and time.
Director Greg Bell has choreographed this dance of destruction with finesse. Watching the delusions of the self important bourgeoisie crumble like clafouti is both humorous and enlightening. Your inner savage will thank you.
(Note: the writer is married to Dan Collins)
GOD OF CARNAGE plays through July 27th at The Spotlighters Theatre on 817 St. Paul St. For tickets, call the Box Office at 410- 752 -1225.