By Diana Saenger
Richard Seer does such a commendable job of directing the excellent cast of “God of Carnage,” that they portray their absurd characters so perfectly none of them is likable — and that’s just fine with the audience.
The Tony award-winning dark comedy, written in French by Yasmina Reza, is making its San Diego premiere at The Old Globe Theatre. It has opened in theaters across the nation and was adapted into the movie, “Carnage,” last year.
Translated by Christopher Hampton, it has received equal amounts of high praise and derisive criticism. Because none of the action seems plausible, the thought plaguing me throughout the show was, who in their right mind would stay in a stranger’s apartment taking this abuse? Only in a play!
After a playground incident between two young boys results in one of them getting two teeth knocked out, the parents of said youth need to decide their next move. These upper-crust couples agree to meet at the home of Mike (Lucas Caleb Rooney) and Veronica (Erika Rolfsrud) Novak. They greet the Raleighs – Annette (Caitlin Muelder) and Alan (T. Ryder Smith) – with a certain amount of decorum.
There’s chit-chat about Mike’s job as a wholesaler, Veronica’s soon to be published book on Darfur and her love of art. While the Novak’s scope out the apartment, Veronica brings out a dessert that Alan can’t get enough of, until his cell phone rings. He’s an attorney who spends the entire evening walking around the room giving lawsuit instructions over the phone. Annette is quiet and cautious in the beginning, but then the lions all emerge from their cages.
These four adults soon exhibit behavior that is far worse than their sons’. At first they pick on and belittle each other, then it’s the women bashing the men, and of course, vice versa. While there is humor from some of the antics (like grownups standing on the furniture or throwing things at each other and literally destroying this apartment), one really has to pause and validate that humor. Annette’s excessive vomiting got moans from the audience long after it was over.
If you go
“God of Carnage”
Matinees, evenings through Sept. 2
The Old Globe’s Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, Balboa Park