Theater Review: Pollard presents ‘God of Carnage’ — a perfect comedy
Elizabeth Hurd Published: February 26, 2016 Updated: Feb 26, 2016
When the dark side of the soul is revealed in classic drama it can be incredibly frightening.
In a modern comedy featuring average folks who, in extremis, expose the evil that lies within, the dark side can be frightfully amusing. The Pollard Theatre is currently showing “God of Carnage,” an example of this kind of humor, created by Yasmina Reza as only the French can.
Christopher Hampton’s translation retains the ambience, and “God of Carnage” becomes a universally appreciated light comedy. The production is unlikely to offend; however it should be noted that strong language occasionally erupts. Two couples meet for the first time in order to discuss a school yard incident involving their two sons. Both sets of parents are fine upstanding members of the community and consider themselves to be good parents. As the play progresses the carefully cultivated and civilized façade of each begins to fracture. Their language deteriorates, their raw emotions are revealed and their children would probably be ashamed of their behavior!
Linda McDonald directs “God of Carnage,” and her expertise is apparent. Her concept is enhanced with the creative and engineering talents of Ben Hall, scene designer. Additionally, lighting designer W. Jerome Stevenson, costume designer Michael James and sound designer Jared Blount contribute to the mood McDonald creates. Timothy Stewart, properties, and Joshua McGowen, stage manager, also add to the technically smooth production.
Of course, everything depends on the four actors. They are James A. Hughes as Alan, with Susan Riley as his lovely wife, Annette. The second couple are Timothy Stewart as Michael and Renee Krapff as his talented wife, Veronica. Alan, a lawyer representing a greedy pharmaceutical company, and Annette have an 11-year-old son who has hit the son of Michael and Veronica on the playground. (He didn’t like being called a snitch.) Surely such a typical school yard altercation can be settled by two modern and civilized couples. But as the evening progresses, the carefully crafted civility of each parent cracks, exposing the darker side. The death of a rodent becomes a tragedy, and disposal of a cell phone becomes an act of war. The couples begin to fight one another, but re-align with the women vs. the men and then back again to parental and familial protective rage. Calm, reasonable discussion becomes a screaming match filled with creative insults.
While the dialogue is amusing, much of the humor comes from a common desire among many to allow our own veneers to crack. Daring to say and do what these four people actually say and do. It is somewhat therapeutic humor. McDonald has cast the production perfectly, and the actors keep us entertained with every raised eyebrow and snide remark. The play is certainly a must for anyone who is married with children.
“God of Carnage” plays at the Pollard through Saturday, Feb. 27. The Pollard Theatre is at 121 W Harrison Ave. in downtown Guthrie, about 20 minutes from Oklahoma City. For information and tickets, visit www.thepollard.org or call 405-282-2800. Better not bring your kids, but it might be lots of fun to bring your neighbors or maybe your in-laws!