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God of Carnage
a Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY
by Yasmina Reza

COMPANY : Merely Players Presents [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Out of Box Theatre at Artisan Resource Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 4834

SHOWING : January 08, 2016 - January 17, 2016

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

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 "God of Carnage" premiered at Wyndham’s Theatre, London, in March 2008 and at Bernard B. Jacobs Theater, New York City, in March 2009. The International Herald Tribune calls it "an expert piece of stagecraft, and savagely funny."


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Joanie McElroy
Michael Novak James Beck
Veronica Novak Barbara Cole Uterhardt
Alan Raleigh Geoff Uterhardt
Annette Raleigh Jacquelyn Wyer
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REVIEWS

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God! The Carnage!
by playgoer
Saturday, January 9, 2016
4.5
Yasmina Reza’s "God of Carnage," Americanized by Christopher Hampton, is being presented by Merely Players Presents at two venues in the month of January. And what a terrific start to the new year this production is!

Director Joanie McElroy has emphasized the black comedy in the script, which shows four adults behaving with ferocity (both verbal and physical) when addressing the issue of their two children having had a fight. It helps greatly that four excellent comedic actors are cast. The script allies them in all possible permutations during the course of the action, starting with two married couples each working as a unit, their unity breaking down as recriminations fly.

Barbara Cole Uterhardt starts out as all gracious smiles, but during the course of the play travels through a myriad of emotions, nailing every one. Jacquelyn Wyer goes through an equivalent range, doing excellent work in her spot-on reactions, particularly memorable in a bit that presages her getting sick to her stomach by having her choke down one piece of clafouti before exchanging her plate for the one her husband has cleared. James Beck doesn’t quite register as repressing his Neanderthal instincts at the start, but inhabits his role fully. Googie Uterhardt’s character has probably the smallest emotional arc of any, but he handles his role with professional aplomb, adding deft comic touches.

The action takes place on an attractive set designed by Katy Clarke. The background is a drop painted with abstract swatches of muted colors, looking much like a drop cloth that happened to be spilled on and brushed in a fashion that turned out to be unexpectedly artistic. In front of that, red tulips pop as a touch of color. Books and furniture fill the stage, but still leave plenty of room for action on the tiny stage. William Joel Coady’s lighting illuminates the set, with pre-show back-lighting of the drop and dimming red at the end being the only notable effects. It all works.

Rose Bianco’s costumes nicely delineate the differing economic conditions of the two couples, with Jacquelyn Wyer and Googie Uterhardt appearing elegant as the Raleighs and James Beck and Barbara Cole Uterhardt appearing more homespun as the Novaks. Nancy Keener’s props provide the specialized art books the script calls for, along with everything needed to address a water-logged cell phone and a stunningly effective vomit scene.

Ms. McElroy’s blocking keeps the action flowing nicely throughout, although sightlines in the theatre don’t necessarily work well with action that occurs on the floor or in reclining positions on the furniture, at least when the audience is packed. It was packed on opening night, and the quality of the production makes it likely that audiences will continue to attend in droves. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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