Quote of the Day: Theatre is a mirror, a sharp reflection of society. Yasmina Reza
Dark & Stormy productions is performing God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza at the Gremlin Theatre in St. Paul, MN through September 11, 2022. A short run, so get your tickets quickly and get over there! The Gremlin Theatre shares space with Lake Monster Brewing, where you can enjoy a beverage before and/or after the show, and eat a snack or dinner from one of the rotating food trucks. Many people sat outside in the ample patio seating on the gorgeous Labor Day weekend. My friend Joanna and I were among them. The food and drink were delicious, but the icing on the cake was the performance by four of the Twin Cities’ finest actors.
Yasmina Reza is an award-winning French playwright who isn’t afraid to dig into the messiness of society. Christopher Hampton wrote the English translation for this play and changed the setting to Brooklyn, NY. God of Carnage opened on Broadway in March 2009 and won the Tony Award for Best Play. The play has been performed around the world. I believe its universal themes of families, children, society, and the complex relationships both familiar and global make it a play that people can relate to no matter where they live.
The entire play takes place in the living room of the Novak’s home. Veronica Novak (Mo Perry) and her husband Michael (Luverne Seifert) have asked the Raleigh’s, Alan (Peter Christian Hansen) and Annette (Sara Marsh) to come over. Veronica wants to discuss the incident in the park involving their 11-year-old son Henry and the Raleigh’s son Benjamin. It’s tense from the start, as you might imagine, when parents become protective and defensive about their children and their behavior. Veronica has a document that describes the incident when Benjamin hit Henry in the face with a stick, causing “disfigurement” and two chipped teeth. They all try to act civil about the matter, for a while. Veronica brings out a dessert. They laugh about silly things.
Then, Alan’s cellphone rings. He takes the call, and very loudly, has a conversation with a client about a law suite (he’s a lawyer) and the terrible side effects of a drug. Annette’s temper is on a slow burn until she finally loses it. Michael tries to douse the flames of tempers with alcohol. As you can imagine, it only fuels the fire.
Both Joanna and I could relate to the situation. Although, not to that extreme or close proximity to an opposing party. We laughed at so many zingers, actions and reactions. We cringed at a few slams and innuendos. The staging is brilliant for this show. Director Benjamin McGovern makes great use of the intimate space at the Gremlin Theatre. It’s a small thrust stage, with audience on three sides. The set (designed by Rick Polenek) is a typical living room with a couch, a couple chairs and a coffee table, a drink stand in one corner, and another seat on the other side. The actors move around in the space, closer and farther apart depending on their allegiance with another character. It starts to feel like animals circling each other in a cage. When the show builds to its climax, it’s chaotic and explosive. By the end, I said, “It’s a very messy play,” both the physical space and the emotional state of the characters…and audience.
The original Broadway production starred Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolphini, and Marcia Gay Harden, who won the Tony for her performance. The Dark & Stormy cast takes us on that emotional rollercoaster where we also find ourselves siding with one, then the other, then feeling a little too connected to the material while pulling back and shaking our heads. Life is messy, just like this play, and we learn so much about ourselves and society by watching it, and discussing it on the ride home!
God of Carnage, performed by Dark & Stormy Productions, closes on Sept. 11, 2022, so get your tickets fast and get to this show! You will be sad that you missed it.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: Have you ever had to deal with an incident between your child and a playmate…and their parents?