BWW Reviews: GOD OF CARNAGE at the Seattle Rep
The Seattle Rep is off to a great start to follow up their previous can't miss season by opening this season with their local production of the Broadway smash, "God of Carnage". The Rep has once again shown they know what the goods are and how to deliver them.
The story by Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton, is a simple and timely one. Two sets of parents get together to discuss and altercation their kids had on the playground. But what starts out as a civil conversation dedicated to the betterment of the kids devolves into a series of accusations, petty drunken insults, true feelings revealed and tulips. I really don't want to give too much away about the story because it's so much better to let it hit you square in the face, and it does. The whole evening is basically one big game of adult tag as we watch alliances shift and power transferred over and over again. And all of this is wrapped up in some wickedly funny banter that's as delicious as an apple and pear clafoutis as the supposed grownups show they are just as susceptible to behaving like children as their own offspring. And all of this is helmed by director Wilson Milam who managed to keep the pace and banter clicking as the control of the situation continued to be transferred from one person to the next. You could almost imagine a dodge ball labeled "power" being tossed back and forth. The entire show was 90 minutes of darkly hysterical fun!
But Milam was not alone in creating this schoolyard brawl. He had the assistance of a dream team of an ensemble. With only four people in the show, you need four powerhouses who can command the stage at the drop of a hat and that's what you had here. Not only did we have my favorite Seattle acting couple Hans Altwies and Amy Thone but they are up against the unstoppable Denis Arndt and Bhama Roget. It's practically impossible to single out any one performance in the show as they were all so good and so tight. Altwies was delectable as he devolved into a swaggering Neanderthal. Thone's journey from complete control to blithering mess was astonishing. Arndt's disconnected family man and ethically questionable lawyer had the audience rolling every time that cell phone rang. But as difficult as it was to point any one person out in this sublime ensemble, I have to say what stayed with me after I left the theater was the transformation of Roget from prim and proper and sensible to ballsy and belligerent and manic. A killer character arc that was a joy to behold. But then all of the characters had their arc of change throughout the night which just makes for plain good storytelling.
Throw a stunningly stark and oh so modern set, and one bit of special effect wizardry that I really don't want to give away (if you've seen the show you know what I'm referring to) and you have a wonderfully good time as we get to be a fly on the wall for the devolution of "civil adults". I for one was worried to see if the Rep could continue their unreal winning streak from last season and I have to say, they're off to one hell of a start.
Photo Credits: Chris Bennion