God of Carnage
Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton
It all starts so amicably, two couples meet to discuss an altercation between their boys, but over the short play the civilised domestic scene descends into a turbulent and emotional dispute.
This dark comedy has recently been turned into a film with Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet, but even on film it is undisguisably a stage play. The small cast, single set and dramatic development make it a tight piece of theatre.
The translation of Le Dieu du Carnage by Christopher Hampton keeps the names French, the cast play the cast with English accents that match the characters, which works well. Alain (George Rowell) the businessman speaks in city boy talk, Michel (Max Fitzroy-Stone) the salesman is more down-to-earth.
It can be a peculiar play in terms of humour; whilst not laughing that often myself there is plenty of humour in the piece and the cast played this well. For some audience members though certain moments were evidently hilarious. Perhaps the domestic incidents were ones they had experienced first hand.
There is lots of comedy in the way that allegiances change over the play with, to begin with, the husbands backing up their wives and then, later in the play, it being more a battle of the sexes. At times they gang up on one person, a little like a grown-up version of the lovers in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
All the different relationships are well explored, showing that this is a close-knit cast who work together with a real team spirit.
The actors play it very straight and allow the words to do their work. The only issues are the very occasional times the actors acted up, for instance, Annette (Helen Clarke) unnecessarily doing a double take after she had scattered the tulips. For the most part, all four give very controlled performances.
A great play brought to life by a strong team of actors.
Reviewer: Seth Ewin