God of Carnage
When two little boys get in a fight, it triggers an adult battle between their parents. For 90 minutes, the parents squabble about their sons. Of course, their fighting reveals the character of each parent and makes it obvious where each of the boys learned to fight. This is the basic plot of God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza and translated by Christopher Hampton. The show has been extended at Cleveland's Dobama Theatre through May 20.
Michael (John Hedges) and Veronica Novak (Tracee Patterson) have invited to their apartment the parents of the child who hit their son and knocked out two of his teeth. Alan (Scott Miller) and Annette Raleigh (Derdriu Ring), the parents of the aggressor, have accepted the invitation to discuss the fight. The Novaks and the Raleighs can't stay on topic. They digress into philosophy, theology, theories of child rearing and occupations (this, of course, has more to do with income than careers).
Michael Novak, the CEO of a small company, would rather be friends with Alan than settle the problem of their sons. As a sign of friendship, Michael breaks out a bottle of his best rum to share with Alan. But, Veronica, who has a problem with drinking, insists she and Annette be served, too. Annette becomes ill but insists on drinking more. Alan Raleigh, an attorney who is not interested in new friendships, spends a good deal of the time on his cell phone attempting to solve legal issues.
By the end of the play, the four adults have wasted themselves, damaged their marriages, and not reached any meaningful decisions about their sons.
Director Joel Hammer has staged the play to take advantage of the physical comedy Reza wrote into the script. The two women get the most physical comedy and play it for every laugh. The actors have been supported by Joel Hammer, who has kept the pace moving quickly, helped with the physical comedy and made each character distinct.
The four performers are excellent. Patterson has a role that gives her more opportunities to get laughs and, at times, almost evoke tears. Hedges does quality work in a performance which allows his character to evolve.
Laura Carlson (scenic designer) created a living room set on a thrust stage. The set is fashionable and functional. This is a room that Veronica would have decorated and Michael would have bought.
The Dobama Theatre made a wise choice in selecting God of Carnage for the season. This is a new play for local audiences and playgoers are filling the Dobama Theatre. This production brings quality work to the Dobama audiences.
The Dobama Theatre's God of Carnage, now through May 20 at 2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights. Ticket Information: 216-932-6838 or visit dobama.org/.
God of Carnage
- David Ritchey