A serious piece of carnage – but great fun to watch!
This dramatic comedy by Yasmina Reza, directed by Geoff O’Keeffe, was performed by Dave Walsh, Ruth Calder Potts, Brian Molly and Claire O’Donovan. The verbal clash between two sets of parents is witty, edgy and most definitely funny.
It was presented in the Mill Theatre, Dundrum from 4 to 7 February 2015.
A thin veneer of civilisation
Soon after ‘God of Carnage’ opens, we learn that an 11-year-old boy hit another boy with a stick, knocking out two of his front teeth. Each of the boys has two parents, who now step in to deal with the aftermath of this juvenile approach to conflict resolution. The parents meet in a room in one of their apartments, to discuss what has happened. Human nature soon begins to roughen the edges of their initial attempt at finding a mature, civilised approach.
In the drama that unfolds, the audience is invited to sit back and witness as the verbal battles between these two families ramp up, unravelling their darker sides and their diplomatic intentions – all fuelled by their complex personalities. The adult encounter ends up reflecting some of the behaviour they cite, at the beginning, as unacceptable in a child.
The four characters created by playwright Yasmina Reza have an engaging mix of commendable, strengthening traits and weakening, moral flaws. As the evening progresses, the parents become increasingly childish. The unsurprising result is that the evening dissolves into chaos, but it does so in a way that brings lots and lots of opportunities for the audience to laugh, while also seeing what can lie, not buried very deeply, beneath the thin layer of decorum and polite, diplomatic interaction in a civilised society.
A big hit around the world …
The play runs for about 90 minutes with no breaks or scene changes. It has entertained audiences around the world since it was first published in France. ‘God of Carnage’ was originally written in French as ‘Le Dieu du carnage’ and was first published in 2008.
An English translation of the play, by Christopher Hampton, was first presented in the UK at the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End on 25 March 2008. The director was Matthew Warchus and the actors were Ralph Fiennes, Tamsin Greig, Janet McTeer and Ken Stott. The London production was widely acclaimed, receiving the Olivier Award for Best New Play of the year.
Following some minor changes to the English script, a Broadway production opened at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre and ran from 28 February in an extended run to 28 February 2010, followed by an open-ended run.
Roman Polanski directed the 2011 film adaption under the name ‘Carnage’. It was shot in Paris and the actors were Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly playing Penelope and Michael, with Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet playing Alan and Nancy.
… and also here in Dundrum
As the page (right) from the local Dundrum Gazette demonstrates, the Mill Productions presentation of the play went down a storm with audiences. Thanks to everyone who came and enjoyed the show!
Photography by Declan Brennan