God of Carnage
Theater By The Sea closes its summer season with the Rhode Island premiere of Ocean State Theatre Company’s production of "God of Carnage," Yasmina Reza’s darkly comic drama about an afternoon that goes terribly wrong when two couples meet to discuss an unfortunate incident at a public park involving their 11-year-old sons, Benjamin and Harry.
Translated by Christopher Hampton, "God of Carnage" premiered on Broadway in 2009 with James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis and Marcia Gay Harden. The play won Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Direction and Best Leading Actress (Harden). Roman Polanski directed a 2011 film adaptation starring Jodi Foster and Kate Winslet.
Alan and Annette Raleigh (Kevin Kraft and Marianne Ferrari) are guests in the home of Michael and Veronica "Roni" Novak (Robert Ierardi and Lisa Ann Goldsmith), but not for a social visit. Benjamin Novak recently lost two teeth and suffered nerve damage when Harry Raleigh him with a stick, so all four parents have gathered to address the boys’ behavior.
What begins as a noticeably awkward but mostly civil interplay between the two couples evolves into an intense, heated argument about parenthood, married life and accepting responsibility. The unmannerly conversation is rife with harsh criticism and brutal honesty, yet wickedly funny and profound.
The words that emerge from the ensemble are often ferocious, but always brilliant, which is precisely what makes this play so powerful and especially entertaining. Reza’s words are a refreshing reminder that there is no such thing as a perfect spouse or parent, yet there is a certain comfort, however cruel, in knowing there are others who have done a worse job at it than you.
Under the fine direction of Amiee Turner, all four cast members deliver terrific performances. Kraft is charming as Alan, the emotionally guarded lawyer who acknowledges his son is a savage. Ferrari’s keen portrayal of Annette exemplifies the stiff, modern day career woman, ignored by her husband and, in turn, neglectful of her son.
Ierardi plays dutiful, domesticated husband, Michael, with equal amounts frivolity and frankness, and Goldsmith steals the show as his cultured, socially conscious wife, Roni, who truly believes in a world where everyone is kind, or at least civil, to each other.
"God of Carnage" is an explosive account of the childish antics adults are capable of, and how our best behavior sometimes brings out our worst.
"God of Carnage" runs through September 16 at Theatre By The Sea, 364 Cards Pond Road, Matunuck, RI. For info or tickets, visit the Theatre By The Sea’s website.