The Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre (ABET) opened its second show of the 2012-2013 season on October 19, with Yasmina Reza’s 2009 Tony Award winning comedy “God of Carnage.” The play won Tony awards for Best Play, Best Direction and Best Actress in a play. It opened across the ocean in London, and won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play. Reza is a French playwright who also won a Tony for “Art” in 1998, which you may have seen since it has had at least three excellent productions in this area over the years.
Despite the title which sounds like a serious drama, “God of Carnage “ is a hilarious romp about what happens when adults try to solve their children’s problems by acting like children themselves.
The play is set in a fashionable New York home designed by Director Eric DeCicco and Jen Fortune. It is the home of Michael and Veronica Novak (Everette Street & Deborah Jordan), who have invited Alan and Annette Raleigh ( Nick Boucher & Ashley Jones) to their home to discuss a playground dispute between their eleven year old sons. Benjamin, the Raleigh’s son, hit Henry, the Novak’s son in the mouth with a stick and knocked out two of his front teeth in the process.
Respect, politeness and civility abound in the first few minutes as the couples enjoy a cup of coffee, and no one seems to want any confrontation. Anyone reading this, whether or not you have children or have raised them, has seen how parents get caught up in the activites of their offspring in competitive events or on the playground. It is just human nature for parents to stick up for their children and deny any wrongdoing on their part.
As these two intelligent couples discuss the assault or “carnage” inflicted upon the Novak’s son, tension grows and grows and the Raleighs become increasingly defensive and protective. Then we observe the step –by-step unraveling of whatever self-control the two couples had at the beginning of the evening, as they lose their cool and begin verbally attacking each other and bringing up totally irrelevant issues.
Mr. Raleigh, a lawyer, exacerbates the situation by using his cell phone for incessant long-winded business conversations; Mr. Novak adds to the aggravation when his mother calls about her medical problems and he shares this with everyone.
Now if this is not enough to have things heated and boiling, both couples have personal marital problems that emerge. Both marriages explode before our eyes as these educated grownups go at each other like cats and dogs. This play will remind you of the movies “The War of the Roses” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf” as couples gradually descend into a savage mode. It is a farce and a lot of fun as this play reveals the shortcomings of middle class parents. Be forewarned, it does have some profanity, as can be expected when anger is mixed with alcohol.
Erik DeCicco directed this fast-paced show and was ably assisted by Lindsay Curry as Co-Director. The casting of this show is outstanding as Nick Boucher, Ashley Jones, Deborah Jordan and Everette Street expertly explore the nuances of marriage and childhood when adults act like children. The timing and lines were perfectly performed.
The intimate setting of ABET makes you feel like you are sitting right in the very comfortable and upscale living room, designed by Co-Director Curry with the assistance of several ABET backers. If you enjoy fine acting, don’t miss this Tony Award Winning play.