God of Carnage – Acting Edition

God of Carnage - Acting Edition


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What happens when two sets of parents meet up to deal with the unruly behavior of their children? A calm and rational debate between grown-ups about the need to teach kids how to behave properly? Or a hysterical night of name-calling, tantrums, and tears before bedtime?
Christopher Hampton’s translation of Yasmina Reza’s sharp-edged new play The God of Carnage premiered at Wyndham’s Theatre, London, in March 2008 and at Bernard B. Jacobs Theater, New York City, in March 2009.

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3 thoughts on “God of Carnage – Acting Edition”

  1. 5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    The god of the smaller things, February 9, 2011
    By 

    This review is from: God of Carnage – Acting Edition (Paperback)

    “[Are] we interested in anything but ourselves? Of course we’d all like to believe in the possibility of improvement”, says poor Alain, one of the four characters in Yasmina Reza’s play “The god of carnage”. He may be naïve for a single moment saying this, but deep down he – and probably the French dramatist – do not believe in the possibility of improving the human being.

    Alain, his wife Annette, and the couple Véronique and Michel, are clear example of the well meant bourgeoisies whose blindness do not allow to see beyond their belly tummy. The answer to Alain first question is: not. No, they – and for extension we – are not interested in anything but themselves. The excuse for the gathering is each couple’s child behavior – one of them has hurt the other with a stick. This is said in the first lines of the play, but what arises after a couple of minutes is the inherent nastiness that inhabits the inside of each of us.

    Reza’s strong dialogues – translated with pitch perfection by Christopher Hampton – exposes above all her characters’ moral fragilities. They are like a quartet playing a game whose winner is the one who best betrays his/her companions. For that they pair up with somebody else from the other couple, but, in the end, each is playing for on his/her own.

    What is it to be a parent? What is it to be half of a married couple? Are there rules for one live in society? How to fulfill other people’s expectations towards us? Or, as a matter of fact, should we? There is a lot of irony in “The god of carnage” because we behave as others expect us to, and rarely show our true colors. They criticize the children’s behavior and are hoped to teach them how to behave. But how can they do that when they themselves behave worse?

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  2. 4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    As Trivial as the Characters It Portrays, March 16, 2011
    By 
    Gary F. Taylor “GFT” (Biloxi, MS USA) –
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    This review is from: God of Carnage – Acting Edition (Paperback)

    Born in 1960, Yasmina Reza is perhaps best known for her wickedly funny ART, a satire on the intellectual pretensions of both the art world and its detractors. Produced in New York in 2009, GOD OF CARNAGE is similar in that raises the question of how civilized we supposedly civilized westerners are and then bites the head off every possible response. It is sharp and clever and interesting stuff. It is also, at least in my opinion, in the theatrical minor leagues–not because of the author’s skill, but because of the short span of time she allows herself in which to set up the premise, develop the characters, and send them flying at each other.

    The play concerns two married couples. Alan and Annette are well-to-do, upper-middle-class rather than rich, with Alan owning and managing a home supply-type store. Michael and Veronica are flatly rich, Michael an attorney who represents drug manufacturers and Vernonica a self-styled author who works part time in a specialty book store. They might easily have met at a cocktail party, or a book signing, or a similar venue, but it is their sons who have bought them together. Both are boys, both are about eleven years old, and they recently had a playground scuffle in which Alan and Annette’s son took a stick and hit Michael and Veronica’s son across the face, with a cut lip and two broken teeth the result.

    The two couples have met at Michael and Veronica’s home to discuss what should be done. Both Alan and Annette feel their son should take responsibility for his act; Michael and Veronica are slightly more diffident, but they too feel the boys should meet and an apology should be given. Everything is very friendly, all four give the impression of head-shaking bemusement, and within minutes the covert stabs begin. At first these center on the children and the degree of guilt involved, but with a little alcohol, and one too many interruptions from Michael’s cell phone, and the discovery that Veronica recently released her daughter’s hamster to a certain death, all hell breaks loose.

    At first it seems the couples will unite against each other, but in short order the alliances begin to shift back and forth. It becomes apparent that neither marriage is particularly happy. After a certain point, it transpires that Alan and Veronica have background on Africa–Alan, who has been there and see it for himself, Veronica, who has studied it extensively for a book project. Suddenly the battle transforms from “whose child” to “whose civilization,” and the play cumulates in a riot of accusations and tulip tossing.

    If this sounds good–it is, but the trouble with it is that it has a run time of ninety minutes. It is rather difficult to accept the notion that these four people could manage to make such a rapid leap from cheerful and friendly to drunken and vicious within the first half hour of the play, still more difficult to accept that they could become so barbed without Alan and Annette simply solving the problem by walking out. But what most hurts the play is the fact that Reza crams too much into her self-imposed time. As one issue gives way to another, we simply don’t have the time to see, to understand, and the resulting play feels as superficially intellectual as her own characters. It is a pity.

    Gary Taylor
    In Memory of Roscoe
    Faithful Companion, 1999-2011

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  3. 1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    well constructed, February 10, 2013
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    This review is from: God of Carnage – Acting Edition (Paperback)

    This play is a good study on loyalty shifts and character foils. It loses its momentum at the end but some of me wonders if that is due to translation. An elegant play.

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