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God of Carnage
FUSION Theatre Company

God of Carnage
Paul Blott, Laurie Thomas, Jacqueline Reid and Bruce Holmes
As presented by FUSION Theatre Company, God of Carnage is a bitter farce, a contemporary comedy of bad manners which grants audiences the delightful opportunity to watch very good actors behave very badly. The 2009 Tony Award winning play, written by French playwright Yasmina Reza, is a deftly crafted suite for four characters. The play depicts the unexpectedly chaotic encounter between two well-heeled New York City couples as they come together ostensibly to resolve the residual issues stemming from a recent playground altercation between their young sons. In the brisk ninety minutes of the play's running time, alliances shift, polite masks fall, deep-seated resentments unfurl, and projectile vomit is spewed. With comedic dexterity and formidable craftsmanship, Yasmina Reza's play charts the unmooring of everything that initially appeared to secure these two couples, stripping them of politesse's protective veneer to reveal the base, craven and animal instincts that guide even the most seemingly "respectable" people.

An ensemble of familiar FUSION Theatre Company actors deliver uniformly strong performances. As brazen corporate lawyer Alan, Paul Blott handles the play's language with masterful dexterity, transforming each of Alan's many intrusive cell phone calls into a reverie of blithe arrogance (a melodic motif we actually miss once gone). As Alan's "wealth manager" wife Annette, Laurie Thomas is utterly believable as a woman who routinely hobnobs with New York City's elite but is deeply appalled both by her husband's casual boorishness and her own startling displays of physical discomfort. Bruce Holmes offers a measured and generally effective depiction of Michael, the recently successful minor magnate who wears his new wealth with palpable unease and begins the evening offering imported tea to his guests but finishes it drunk, untucked and bellowing. As Michael's wife Veronica, the "socially conscious" writer convinced of her own righteousness (and completely blind to how her principled proclamations antagonize everyone around her), Jacqueline Reid's performance is at first firm and emphatic but becomes increasingly hilarious as Veronica slips out of control and into a manic and feral rage.

Gil Lazier's adroit direction is clean and light-handed, providing necessary scaffolding for his actors while never impinging upon them. Cassidy Zachary's costumes are thoughtful and aptly executed, evoking each character's idiosyncratic display of their wealth. Richard K. Hogle's scenic and lighting design splashes the stage with bright colors and animal prints (perhaps underscoring the thematics of the piece a bit too sharply for my taste) but it is a sensible choice accomplished effectively.

As presented by FUSION Theatre, Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage is diverting and delightful, laden with the gratifying pleasures that come from watching good actors, well directed, say and do terrible things. You will laugh. You will cringe. You will likely be deeply grateful you don't actually know any of these people. Yet, at the same time, you will almost certainly wonder (or worry) who in your life is so subject to the whims of this God of Carnage.

God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, presented by FUSION Theatre Company and directed by Gil Lazier, runs August 18-September 4, 2011, at The Cell Theatre, 700 1st St. NE, Albuquerque. Show times: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, with additional shows on Saturdays at 2pm and Sundays at 6pm. Two performances only (Friday, September 2, and Saturday, September 3) will be presented at at the Armory for the Arts in Santa Fe, 10050 Old Pecos Trail. $30 general admission; $25 students/seniors. For reservations, visit www.fusionabq.org or call 505-766-9412.


Photo: Richard K. Hogle

--Brian Herrera



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