God of Carnage – Mill Theatre
Review by Audrey Devereux
God Of Carnage 4th February – 7th February
Some plays are plays of ideas and some are plays of observation. Yasmina Reza’s 2009 Tony-award winning play, God of Carnage, is a play of observation. Taking place in the sitting room of a comfortably-off middle class home, two couples ‘moderate on the surface’ unravel to become, to quote Alan in the play, ‘far more authentic when showing themselves in a horrible light.’
Alan and Annette are a typical ‘power couple’, working in law and wealth management respectively. Their hosts for the afternoon are, the ostensibly progressive, Veronica and Michael, he has his own plumbing business, she is a part-time writer. They have come together as their sons have been fighting, resulting in one of the children having two broken teeth. The four-some spend much of the play trying to resolve the situation in a ‘civilised’ manner. Gradually as the afternoon wears on and alcohol is consumed, glossy layers of pretension and sophistication are peeled back to reveal the inner child in each of them, each one desperate to prove he or she is right and ultimately to defend their respective offspring. There is plenty of comedy in their plight, even if it’s slightly disturbing to see how destructive their tantrums become. In places it reminded me of Chriostos Tsiolkas novel The Slap, a seemingly innocuous event wreaks havoc on the lives surrounding it. This is a drawing-room comedy with a visceral edge, as Michael’s final despairing words ring true at the end of the play ‘What do we know?’
The cast give impressive and gutsy performances in this ensemble piece, with assured and tight direction from Geoff O’Keefe, there is not a move or nuance out of place. From Dave Walsh’s insufferably arrogant lawyer ‘Alan’, to Ruth Calder Potts teasing out the comedy as his long-suffering, practical wife ‘Annette’, to Claire O’Donovan’s astutely observed and earnest ‘Veronica’ to ‘Michael’, played by Brian Molloy, Veronica’s husband and an affable, but reluctant father. Reza, in her stage directions, suggests local place names be used to make the play more immediate to the audience and the Mill audience certainly appreciated this, heightening their laughter peppered throughout this one-act play. Set design and lighting design, by Gerard Bourke and Kris Mooney, respectively, complemented the piece.