Friday, February 15, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) God of Carnage

The Carnage of Civility
by Jim Murchison 

The set is very simple. A modest, tasteful home with a smattering of furniture is all it is or needs to be. Art books are set in the middle of the modern white coffee table. Fresh tulips are added for a touch of elegance as visitors are coming.

You could set God of Carnage in any city. This play is set in modern day Paris but it could have easily been adapted to (insert your city here). The theme is so simple. Two 11-year old boys were in a fight and one was injured. The parents meet to discuss the a civilized manner.

Yasmina Reza’s script as translated by Christopher Hampton shows what can be done with a very simple idea fleshed out with brilliant dialogue. Each layer of manners and pretence drops like a veil of modesty to reveal the real feelings of irritation and resentment that everyone feels for each other. At times the couples side with each other, at times the men against the women and vice versa. It ends up being much more about how badly adults communicate than anything to do with a schoolyard fight.

Director Ross Manson has pulled every string and used every moment to its fullest allowing a terrific cast to play with gusto. Todd Duckworth as Alain goes from subtle indignation to outright desolation. Kristina Watt’s Annette would make the audience sick with her own illness, if they weren’t laughing so hard. John Koensgen’s mild mannered character turns into a rum swilling, sneering malcontent. Veronique as played by Mary Ellis maintains her principles of civilized non-violence except when she wants to make a point where she has no compunction about employing assault and battery herself. The entire cast is splendid in making these transitions believable and tremendously entertaining.

This is as complete a production as one will see in performance, direction, timing and playwriting. For those that have not seen the play or the film this last comment will be a non sequitur but take it as a teaser instead. Rodents rights activists and PETA supporters be assured: no hamsters were harmed in the making of this production. 

runtime: approximately 1 hour 20 minutes with no intermission
God of Carnage runs until March 2, 2013

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