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Review: ‘God of Carnage’ a wickedly savage comedy

One scene, that I won’t give away here, involves the destruction of some rare art history books on a coffee table. It’s one of the wildest (and stomach churning) gags in recent memory.

In Review

God of Carnage

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars - 'Sweet Stuff'
Directed by Rick Lombardo
Starring Amy Resnick, Bob Sorenson, Joey Parsons, Benjamin Evett
By Yasmina Reza
Through April 15, 2012
Co-production with Arizona Theatre Company
www.sjrep.com
Review by
San Jose Repertory Theatre

Alan (Benjamin Evett) attempts to hold back a worked up Veronica (Amy Resnick) from her husband Michael (Bob Sorenson)

God of Carnage is one big comedic train wreck. In a good way.

The one act play, now playing the SJ Rep, takes place in an everyday living room — it could be yours or mine — and slowly tears away the veneer that sugar coats every day pleasantries. Unbridled barbarism or passion, it suggests, is merely a few chugs of rum away. While we may look like grown ups, act like grown ups, and talk like grown ups, in the end perhaps we’re just like the very school children we’re seeking to protect. Come to think of it, this play could be analogous to an adult version of Lord of the Flies; toss in a little Eugène Ionesco absurdist insensibility and you have the recipe for a wickedly savage comedy.

Espresso and cake, lead way to rum. And from there, well, things get pretty darn zany, and hysterically so.

The set-up is simple. Two sets of parents are discussing a playground altercation between their boys. A stick was involved, possibly a gang, and some broken teeth.

“Bravado is a kind of courage”

Art historian Veronica (Amy Resnick) and household goods wholesaler Michael (Bob Soresen) see themselves as victims, and are insistent their son gets fair remedy for the perceived assault. Meanwhile Annette (Joey Parsons) and her tightly strung husband (Benjamin Evett), a lawyer who can’t go two minutes without his BlackB–, oops I mean Android smartphone, ringing, feel the whole ordeal is overblown. After all, boys will be boys. And, besides, there’s a certain Spartacus inspired pride in seeing your little earn his stripes on the playground.

Review

Michael (Bob Sorenson) fishes out Annette’s (Joey Parsons, back) husband’s cell phone, after she drops it into the vase, while an inconsolable Alan (Benjamin Evett) watches in distress

It’s not long before the civilized conversation between the parents descends into cutting exchanges that reveal varying perspectives on art history, the savoir-faire of men and women, and, even, the right way to liberate a hamster.

Espresso and cake, lead way to rum. And from there, well, things get pretty darn zany, and hysterically so. One scene, that I won’t give away here, involves the destruction of some rare art history books on a coffee table. It’s one of the wildest (and grossest) gags in recent memory. To attempt to describe it here would be an impossible endeavor. Great films have turning points; key sequences that change the rules. This was one of those moments.

Thankfully this is a talented cast, and material that might otherwise teeter just this side of sitcom, comes intelligently to life. All four actors are on stage for the full 90 minutes, and exhibit exceptional range – from the polite and gently demur, to the outraged and full-on drunken gallivanting.

God of Carnage is high octane. This is the kind of play where the stakes get higher and higher. There’s plenty of shouting, and over-the-top antics, so be ready for the “rollercoaster” as they call it. Hijinx like this, though, hits the bittersweet spot.

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Photo Credit: Tim Fuller
Clinton Stark
Clint is based in San Francisco and co-founded Stark Insider - a new media venture. His goal was to help fill the increasing gap in arts coverage. This site has consumed his every fiber. Yet, he still has time to talk Napa wine, review a play (ATCA member) or live show, and shoot videos. More: Clint's story...