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God of Carnage

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Yasmina Reza writes plays that are short, sharp and witty and God of Carnage is no exception.

She usually starts with a very simple idea but it is how the characters react to this idea or more importantly how they react to each other that make her plays so riveting and entertaining.

The play starts unassumingly. Parents of a young boy have been invited round to another set of parents as there appears to have been an ‘incident’ at school. The four parents begin with all the trappings of good and reasonable behaviour. Determined to be sensible they will be adult about the whole thing; the four will part amicably and the issue will have been resolved to the benefit of all. But of course this is drama and although the situation and the characters are real enough all will NOT be resolved amicably.

The foretaste of what is to come is deliciously displayed in the unspoken prologue; chairs are re-arranged and the tulips are moved ten inches to the left to create the perfect impression.

The staging is tremendous; the audience sits on both sides of the playing area (visually indicating there are two sides to every argument?) and the central playing space becomes a gladiatorial arena as the men circle one another. The ‘offstage’ rooms do not work as well with the bathroom becoming something of a distraction.
Emma Lucia’s sure and confident direction moves the play at a fair lick. She ensures all the elements from high comedy to anger; from profundity to farce and from mayhem through shock to deadly silence come together as a cohesive whole.

It would be unfair to pick out one performance from this highly accomplished quartet of actors. Jenny Livsey, Catrin Aaron, Richard Elfyn and Philip Bretherton all play their roles to the hilt.

The play may be a short eighty minutes (no interval) but it packs a lot in and there are no wasted moments. There is even time to blow-dry a catalogue! Why? Go and see!

-Richard Woodward

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