Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

November 21, 2010

God of Carnage

TheaterWorks, Hartford, CT
By K.J. Rogowski
through December 19, 2010

The theme of TheaterWorks' comic "God of Carnage" is a slow, but steady peeling away of common civilities and social and 'political' correctness, as two couples meet to discuss, what should be, a reasonably adult situation: a fight between their two sons. What results is something entirely different; as the issues between the two couples themselves, as well as several unexpected changes in allegiances regarding the fight throw the best laid plans of all concerned into childishness. This includes name calling, outrageous pronouncements, inappropriate behavior, and some physical confrontations more appropriate for the playground than the living room. Add to this, as series of 'must take' phone calls regarding a court case whose machinations strangely mirror the progress of the parental conflict. The end product is that the audience is watching the proverbial train wreck in slow motion, and there is no one is at the wheel.

Few topics or taboos are spared the carnage as these four adults take sides, switch sides, and reveal not only some personal confidences, but their own real selves, that dwell somewhere under a fragile social veneer. The comic mix of characters includes Susan Bennett as Annette, as the harried wife with the queasy stomach; Royce Johnson, as her cell phone addicted lawyer/husband, Alan; Candy Buckley as Veronica, the sensitive, artistic and snippy hostess; and Wynn Harmon as Michael, the wild card in liberal's clothing. The evening delivers some well paced, and at times, surprising comic turns under the direction of Tazewell Thompson. While the overall performance is worth while, two items leave an audience member wondering: the use of a racial slur in the heat of a moment that goes unaddressed and unanswered, and an ending that seemss to lack pace or energy.