Last week I caught God of Carnage at The Citadel. I caught the talk-back preview on Tuesday night and not only got to see the fabulous show, but also was fortunate to see and hear actors Fiona Reid and Ric Reid (who play the parents of the injured child) and director James MacDonald answer questions about the show and the process specific to this show. It is always a treat to get a glimpse into the people and the processes behind the art. All three were delightful and Ms. Reid was especially funny. I have a feeling she is a riot to party with.
The show was great fun. Great fun in an oh-my-god-did-that-just-happen kind of way. Written by Yazmina Reza, the script deals with two sets of parents meeting about an altercation between their 11 year old sons. One child has been severely injured and the intent of the meeting is to civilly discuss the repercussions. What happens is anything but civil. It is a riot. Many times I found myself laughing so hard it surprised me. This is a masterful script. As a parent I connected strongly to both couples. Despite the extremes of action, I totally believed it, because I have felt that intense emotional reaction where my kids are involved. Have I acted like these people? No... not to that extreme, but have I wanted to? Yeah... I confess... I have wanted to. In my opinion, this is one of those scripts, like August:Osage County and Rabbit Hole, that will live on and on and on.
The production itself serves this piece well. All four actors (add Ari Cohen and Irene Poole to the mix as the parents of the child who attacks with a stick) are excellent in going for it. This script demands both subtly and the outrageous and they are all skilled at reaching those highs and lows, and boy are there lows. No one gets off easy in this play, not even the morally defiant Veronica (played by Fiona Reid) who demands a code of moral conduct yet descends to physically attacking her own husband. That's the god of carnage at work, isn't it? MacDonald has skillfully directed a piece that moves along briskly, for the most part, and zigs and zags from calm negotiation and clafoutis to vomiting and violence to art books and cell phones to rum and cigars and back to violence. There are occasional soft spots, but the sense was that these moments were there to provide a moment of recovery and breath before the roller coaster rides on to the next high loop. The set and costumes are pitch perfect with a sharp red reminiscent of blood and anger to keeps us planted in the idea that this is a war zone.
If there is one thing that occasionally nudged me out, it was that one of the couples seemed a bit too mature to be the parents of 9 and 11 year old children. Really this only happened when the ages of the children were mentioned, and I realize that people are having kids later and later, but I have a 10 year old and a 7 year old and at 44 years old, I am one of the oldest moms at their elementary school, so it just flagged in my head. I can see from the acting skills why these actors are on the stage and for the most part I was totally buying it, it just bounced me out of total immersion whenever I heard the ages of the kids.
*#11 in my theatrical goals for 2012