Review: The God of Carnage

Megan Dalton 9 May 2013

The God of Carnage

Corpus Playroom, Tues 7th- Sat 11th May, 7pm

The God of Carnage is a play in which two couples meet in a civilised environment to discuss an altercation between their sons, but as mature conversation spirals into a world of playground politics, parents become childishly obstinate, and unable to uphold the facade of the “responsible parent routine”. The darlings who were at first to be doted upon and defended are soon referred to as “little bastards” in this thoroughly entertaining comic drama.

From the Gerhard Richter poster on the wall to the tribal print throws, abundance of tulips, and champagne in the cabinet, the set is a well-constructed nest for the bourgeois bohemian. The prominent glare of the gaudy red wallpaper, if a little shoddily attached to the wall, sets the mood perfectly and the lighting is simple and effective. The two sofas are used effectively as domestic fortresses with the characters’ positions changing as allegiances switch.

It would be unfair not to give each actor an individual mention, as all were superb. Isabelle Kettle as Veronica perfects an air of unbearably haughty civility, descending into a shrill and childish petulance at Alan’s oh-so-hideous proposition that people might possibly be “fundamentally uncouth”. Matthew Clayton as Michael, her somewhat down-trodden husband, slipped effortlessly from appearing well-meaning, if a little pathetic, into a character far more neurotic, bitter, and quite frankly verging on disturbing. Hamsters beware.Jon Porter’s Alan seemed at first to be neither quite detached enough from the scene at hand nor furiously engaged enough in the one taking place at the other end of his mobile phone, but his characterisation soon proved to brilliantly balance the two in order to add to the sense of contained civility, maintaining just enough decorum to allow adult conversation to continue – at least for a short while. His off-hand yet highly controversial remarks were performed to great comic effect. Olivia Emden’s Annette, Alan’s “woof woof”, was especially fantastic, saying at first much more with her half-smiles and thinly veiled glares than with her words. Her subsequent descent into drunkenness provides one of the most brilliantly hilarious moments of the play, as she takes glee in thoroughly undermining her disengaged husband.

The only criticism I could make would be to say that awkward silences were not always as fully exploited as they could have been at the beginning of the play, but this is a very minor fault in what were otherwise some very impressive performances. A special mention should also be given to Jess Wolinski: “Vomit Genius” is no understatement.

Tom Fraser and Lara Ferris should be immensely proud of this slick production, for not only was it highly enjoyable, balancing poignancy with hilarious absurdity, but it ran incredibly smoothly. It is a rarity to see actors so well settled into their roles, sound-effects so seamlessly used, and an audience so engaged on an opening night. This was a truly polished performance: I would advise that you book tickets in advance.

Megan Dalton