Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

God of Carnage
Asolo Repertory Theater

Katie Cunningham, David Breitbarth and Kate Hampton
Asolo Repertory Theater is presenting the regional premier of Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage, as translated by Christopher Hampton. This is a play that had a very prestigious Broadway production, drawing such high-powered actors as Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden. It seems to be an actor's delight, four roles to sink their teeth into.

The premise is that two sets of parents have come together to sort out and make sense of an act of violence that occurred between their two sons. The version being used by Asolo Repertory Theater sets the piece in Brooklyn, although the first English language production was set in Paris, according to an interview with director Greg Leaming in the Season Program. I find it hard to imagine American parents being able to maintain such a civilized demeanor in a situation so loaded with explosive emotions; perhaps French parents could handle this more calmly. In truth, I never really warmed to the play. It began rather slowly, did get more explosive in the middle, but I never found the interactions between the characters particularly involving. I found my mind wandering several times during this short, a mere 67 minutes, play. Nothing that I saw on the stage shed any light for me, on any universal truth, in the way that a great piece of theater can.

The play does not make any strong technical demands on a theater, and Asolo has put forward a perfectly adequate production. Sets, costumes and lights all work in service to the play. The strongest part of the production is the acting by the four cast members, all of whom appear in Once in a Lifetime, currently playing in repertory along with a production of Isaac Bashevis Singer's Yentl. I cannot imagine the challenge of playing a modern drama one night and a '30s stylized comedy the next. Bravo to all four actors. I always enjoy seeing company members in multiple roles each season and season after season.

Asolo Repertory Theater presents God of Carnage through April 6, 2012, at the Mertz Theater in the FSU Center. 5555 N. Tamiami Trail. Sarasota, Florida. Box Office (941) 351-8000. For more information visit

Veronica Novak: Kate Hampton
Alan Raleigh: James Clarke
Michael Novak: David Breitbarth
Annette Raleigh: Katie Cunningham

Directed by Greg Leaming
Set and Costume Design by Judy Gailen
Lighting Design by Matthew Parker
Stage Manager: Patrick Lanczki

Photo: Cliff Roles

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See the current season schedule for West Coast Florida

--William S. Oser

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