Orange County Theatre Reviews

(photo courtesy: Jordan Kubat)

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

“God of Carnage” surprisingly, is not a myth about unclothed Spartans. It’s a lurid headline that brings to mind grisly images of battles led by a shirtless Gerard Butler, but funnily enough, there are no naked Grecians here to be found. Forced into close proximity by the violent actions of their own children, two very American, very “typical” couples show us that wrath lurks in the hearts of even the most refined among us. The Wayward Artists “God of Carnage” is a thought provoking show that pumps out a few shocks along the way.

After their child injures another during a schoolyard fight, Alan and Annette Raleigh go over to apologize and discuss reparations.  The disciplined, civilized thing to do.  Veronica and Michael Novak welcome their fellow parents with smiles and handshakes.  The gracious, understanding thing to do.  But underneath all of the smiling civility and courteous apologies, there lurks in each parent a degree of contempt.  As time goes on, the contempt blossoms into a more visible rage, and all facades peel away to reveal the true carnage beneath.

The audience is seated to the right, left, and front of the stage.  We are on the same level as the actors, and in some instances the players are close enough for us to just reach out and touch.  I generally find intimacy enjoyable, and this case is no different.  The costumes are in contemporary American style.  While the clothing might make the people resemble caricatures more than they already do, they aren’t exaggerated enough to be considered cartoonish.

There are only four characters in the story, and they are played by Aimee Guichard (Veronica Novak), Keith Bush (Michael Novake), Garret Replogle (Alan Raleigh), and Shayanne Ortiz (Annette Raleigh).  The cast is generally strong and engaging, but there are notable exceptions. During certain boisterous arguments, some of the players appear to struggle to keep their composure.  Instead of looking genuinely angry (which would be funny) they look like they are about to burst into laughter at any given moment.

The script is interesting, but it’s also long.  With a running time of ninety minutes, I couldn’t help but shift and squirm a little, but director Sarah Ripper does a good job by giving the actors plenty of movement.  We are not just staring at people sit on couches for an hour and half.  The actors play off of each other well, and real instances of alarm take place.

Overall this was an intriguing, emotional, and humorous night.

November 8 – 17, 2019 

 

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