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Southern Florida by John Lariviere


God of Carnage

Also see John's review of The Cha-Cha of a Camel Spider and coverage of The Bridge Project

God of Carnage
Nick Santa Maria, Kim Ostrenko, Kim Cozort and Michael Serratore
The Caldwell Theatre presents God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza. The play is about two pairs of parents, one of whose child has hit the other with a stick causing him to lose two teeth. While they meet to discuss the matter in a civilized manner, the evening unravels marital discord and ambivalence between the two couples that escalates into a state of chaos.

The show is set in the upscale Brooklyn living room of Michael and Veronica Novak (Michael Serratore and Kim Cozort). The set designed by Tim Bennett is beautiful and chic—a clear reflection of the artful taste of writer Veronica. It contrasts the slightly gruff style of her husband Michael, who sounds like he's right out of the cast of "The Sopranos" and works a vague job in wholesale. As the parents of "the victim" they start off trying to do their best to be neither blaming nor confrontational. The parents of the stick-wielding child, Alan and Annette Raleigh (Nick Santa Maria and Kim Ostrenko) seem understandably defensive. Alan is a corporate lawyer obsessively glued to his cell phone as he wheels and deals. His wife is a high strung financial executive frazzled by her nearly absent husband.

Reza's dialogue is wonderfully acted by the two couples. As their personalities are peeled away layer by layer, the actors show changes in temperament and focus while never losing pacing. A comic bit involving an upset stomach is handled amusingly and well. The introduction of alcohol completes the transformation to the planned carnage. While the actors seem to get inebriated too quickly, the way in which they handle it physically is the most enjoyable part of the show. Kim Ostrenko is the most adept at using it to comic advantage.

Nick Santa Maria is a master at making his constant phone call conversations sound both urgent and real. Both couples manage enough chemistry and conflict to be believable as long term-couples having weathered some rough patches. There is enough bite to the dialogue to remind one of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, but the intent is much different. All four talented actors balance their characters against one another admirably. Carnage has never been so filled with wit and humor.

French playwright, actress, novelist and screenwriter Yasmina Reza premiered The God of Carnage in November of 2007 in Zurich, where it received the Viennese Nestroy-Theatre Prize for the best German-language performance of the season. Translated into English by Christopher Hampton, it opened in London in March of 2008. The London production won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. The play premiered on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on March 22, 2009, and closed on June 6, 2010. The Broadway production received three Tony Awards including Best Play. Reza's other plays include Conversations After a Burial, The Passage of Winter, Art, The Unexpected Man, Life X 3, and A Spanish Play.

God of Carnage will be appearing through May 15, 2011, at the Caldwell Theatre. The Caldwell Theatre Company is a professional theatre company hiring local and non-local Equity and non-Equity actors. The Caldwell Theatre Company is designated by the State of Florida as a Cultural Institution and receives funding from the State of Florida through the Florida Department of State, the Florida Arts Council and the Division of Cultural Affairs. The Caldwell Theatre Company is located in the Count De Hoernle Theatre at 7901 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton, Florida. Performance times are Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM, and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. For information and/or tickets you may contact them by phone at 561-241-7432 or online at www.caldwelltheatre.com .

Cast:
Veronica Novak: Kim Cozort*
Michael Novak: Michael Serratore*
Alan Raleigh: Nick Santa Maria*
Annette Raleigh: Kim Ostrenko*

Crew:
Director: Kenneth Kay
Scenic Design: Tim Bennett
Lighting Design: Thomas M. Shorrock
Sound Design: Dustin Hamilton
Costume Design: Alberto Arroyo
Stage Manager: Robert Herrle*

*Indicates member of the Actor's Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.


Photo: Tim Bennett


See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere



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