Saturday, October 1, 2011

God of Carnage, Artist Repertory Theatre (Grade B+)

by Yasmina Reza
Directed by Denis Arndt

Michael Novak  .....   Patrick Dizney
Veronica Novak   .....   Allison Tigard
Alan Raleigh   .....   Michael Mendelson
Annette Raleigh   .....   Trisha Miller

Plot: two couples meet to decide how best to deal with an altercation their young son's have had--one boy hitting the other with a stick and damaging his teeth, the other boy excluding the first from a 'gang' and calling him names--which precipitated the use of the stick. Their civility is frayed as the conversation goes on--sort of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf style.

sez says: This play want's to know how deep is our civilized self?  We can meet and be polite about things that are difficult -- but there is a point for each of us where the veneer is thin and once it is punctured we are capable of primitive behaviors.  The use of the wrong word can set some of us off....but agreement can be found to use another word, or to express an idea slightly differently, to bring ourselves back to civility. And we move on.  But additional little jabs transpire and the veneer can be penetrated in a variety of ways.  Thus tension ratchets-up, and even while we try and calm it down, tipping points are reached and we see even those most dedicated to civility can act out of base animal instinct.

Or as in the case of  Alan Raleigh (Michael Mendelson) one can avoid engaging the question of  how to address the uncivilized behavior of his stick wielding son.  He want's to leave that to the his wife  Meanwhile his problem  is to hide from the public the harm a drug can cause in order to protect the drug's manufacturer. So he has a bigger stick that will hurt even more people.  

Throw in a little liqueur and the behavior gets more raw and the conversation circles around what chance does improving civilization really have... are we not, at core, all beasts...or at least capable of being beasts.  Great questions, great show.

mjc says:  the writer explodes into raw expression what lies just beneath the surface of our polite conversation.  It is there, the actor's portrayal of it I thought was real, though not quite the seamless flow of the repressed thoughts becoming fierce reality.

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