French playwright Yasmina Reza won a Tony for her “God of Carnage,” a scorching dark comedy about two sets of parents attempting to civilly resolve a problem involving their respective sons.
The one-act 90-minute play starts off with the four people awkwardly meeting each other and trying to reach some agreement on settling a schoolyard fight, where one of the boys will require dental work. Starting slowly, the discussion goes from awkward to downright hostile, as each character loses control and verbally attacks the others. Hostility towards the other parents’ lifestyle alternates with hostility toward each other’s spouses, as things get not only out of control but downright mean.
The play has been compared to “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?,” but it is quite different. It is more than one couple tormenting the other couple. It is each of the four characters confronting their own fears and prejudices and each other. This makes for some tense moments but also allows for some very funny, biting lines. It is truly dark humor.
“God of Carnage” is a play for adults about adults who don’t know how to play fair.
The four actors (Marianne Ferrari, Robert Ierardi, Lisa Ann Goldsmith and Kevin Kraft) are quite good in holding back at the beginning and slowly losing control of their emotions. A bottle of rum helps to loosen their tongues and open them up to revealing marital problems.
Alan (Kraft) is constantly removed from the conversation by the ringing of his cell phone, as the lawyer tries to deal with a serious litigation problem involving a drug manufacturer he represents. His wife (Ferrari) has a weak stomach for confrontation, shocking the other three – and the audience –when she vomits all over Veronica’s coffee table books. There was a collective gasp and a few “ughs” during this very realistic scene.
The language and the underlying implications are sharp and scalding. Michael’s account of the killing of his son’s hamster reveals parts of his character, while the other three have revealing moments of their own.
“God of Carnage” is powerful theatre, not for everyone but for those who like to be challenged by their beliefs and attitudes. It is the type of play you would enjoy in a more intimate setting, like Gamm or 2nd Story, where the audience is up closer.
This is the last production in Matunuck by the Ocean State Theatre Company, who we will welcome to Warwick in December with their first production in their new theatre.
“God of Carnage” runs through Sept. 16. For reservations call 782-8587. Tickets are $30-$49.