Review: GOD OF CARNAGE - Beyond August Productions

Dark Comedy At Its Best

By: Jul. 24, 2023
Review: GOD OF CARNAGE - Beyond August Productions
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When Yazmina Reza’s 2006 play GOD OF CARNAGE was translated from the original French into English by Christopher Hampton it quickly became a hit in both the UK and America. In 2009 it scored Tony awards for Best Play as well as for directing and acting. While critical praise was effusive, the play isn’t without its detractors; it’s high on the dark comedy scale certainly. This show is powerful and can evoke a strong emotional response therefore it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. 

This comedy doesn’t merely push your emotional buttons, it uses a sledgehammer to smash the smithereens out of them. With dialogue that is designed to shock, GOD OF CARNAGE gives us two sets of parents, Alan (Chuck Winkler) and his wife, Annette (Shannon Embry), along with Veronica (Jill Klopp Turner) and her husband, Michael (Peter Young). The couples meet for the first time because the son of Alan and Annette has hit the son of the other couple with a stick in the park, injuring the other child. The initial reason for putting the four characters together becomes secondary to the ensuing action of the play. What follows is an exploration of the dark side of humanity using the things we don’t usually say out loud in a social setting. The overall experience reveals that our deepest, shadow selves are lying just beneath the veneer of civility. 

Beyond August Productions and director Robyn Conner do an outstanding job in bringing this midnight dark comedy to life. Conner’s direction is clear and clean, giving the show a real life feel which is not an easy task. The ensemble cast is excellent, Winkler, Embry, Turner, and Young have incredible comic timing and are on point getting the most emotional impact from their audience. Casey Prowell’s lighting design in the Rosette Theatre space is gorgeous and the shifting lighting captures the mood onstage well. My favorite though is the set designed by Austin theatre legend, Michael Stuart. His design of an upwardly mobile middle-class living room is stunning and the use of Greco-Roman columns and sculpture are a master stroke. The seeming perfection of the setting belies the turmoil boiling just beneath the surface. 

GOD OF CARNAGE marks the first solo produced show for Beyond August Productions. If this is their beginning, I cannot wait to see all they have in store. I highly recommend this show for adult audiences who enjoy delving into the deep darkness lurking within the human soul. 

GOD OF CARNAGE

by Yazmina Reza

Translated by Chris Hampton 

Directed by Robyn Conner

Beyond August Productions

The Rosette Theatre

at Baker Center in Hyde Park

3908 Avenue B, Austin, TX 78751

Run Time: 1 hour 45 minutes with one intermission. 

Tickets: $25 - $30 

 


 



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