Nothing quite prepares one for the theatrical hilarity that playwright Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage delivers. That is, unless one reads a spoiler. But you’re safe. No spoiler alert here. This is more of a gush. God of Carnage tagline? A Comedy of Manners…Without the Manners. From the moment I saw that on the playbill I knew I was in for a treat. Translated from the French by Christopher Hampton, God of Carnage is a pitch perfect modern day American experience of parenting turned on its head.
Two sets of parents meet to discuss their sons. It seems that one boy has hit the other boy with a stick and seriously damaged his teeth – his “incisors”. A quick unpeeling of a few superficial layers exposes a narcissistic take on marriage and parental dysfunction as the four adults regress to childish behavior and chaos. It seems parents are much closer to their eleven year old selves then they might care to admit.
In the hands of the original Broadway cast, Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden, God of Carnage is patently hilarious. Director Matthew Warchus deftly stages conflict and physical comedy to great effect. God of Carnage won 2009 Tony Award for Best Play. Marcia Gay Harden received the Tony for Best Actress. Brilliantly written and translated it’s easy to imagine even non-marquee actors delivering this play’s comic punch. But, if you’re looking for catharsis and redemption this play comes up short. If you’re ready for a great comment on the irony of egotistical delusions in adulthood and their childhood parallels though, you will be chuckling for days.
God of Carnage will be in repertory for years to come. As royalties become affordable local high schools will shed light on new productions with audiences of parents and children to enjoy the melee. Currently playing in Los Angeles at the Ahmanson Theatre with the original Broadway cast.