An hour into the press performance, the on-stage lights waned. A few minutes later, the four-strong cast - Ralph Fiennes, Tamsin Greig, Ken Stott and Janet McTeer - carrying on in semi-darkness, were interrupted by a stage manager who explained that the theatre (in fact, all of the theatres on that part of Shaftesbury Avenue) had been hit by a partial power cut that had knocked out the stage lighting and sound desk.
Producers Pugh and Rogers and theatre owner Cameron Mackintosh asked the audience to remain patient. After a 15-minute break and Pugh’s declaration that the show must indeed go on, the performance resumed with the house lights up, minimal “working lights” on stage and sound effects (mainly, regular phone ringing) left to the collective imagination.
God of Carnage revolves around two sets of parents who meet to discuss a playground altercation between their 11-year-old sons. The English-language premiere reunites for the first time the team behind Art, which ran for eight years in the West End - translator Christopher Hampton, director Matthew Warchus and producers David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers (as well as designer Mark Thompson, lighting designer Hugh Vanstone and composer Gary Yershon). The production is booking until 14 June.
Though in his address to last night’s audience, producer David Pugh threatened to “bloody kill” any critics who mentioned the power cut in their reviews, few were able to resist – however, the event certainly didn’t dim their praise. In addition to “handling the crisis so deftly”, the cast were applauded for their “style and finesse” and “superlative comic performances”. As for the piece itself, while all critics greatly enjoyed themselves and welcomed the Art team’s latest collaboration, some worried that Reza has tried too hard to make us “see her molehill as a mountain”, overburdening the comedy with inappropriately weighty macrocosm metaphors.
- by Kate Jackson
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