Arts Review: God of Carnage

Dir. Gareth Nicholls, Tron Theatre, 9th-25th March

Extreme projectile vomiting, the stench of ruined fresh tulips, and a ball pool surrounding a set of a furnished middle class living room are what remain mulling in my head after seeing Glasgow’s production of Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage.

With a cast of four, this one-act play assumes the aftermath of a playground altercation between two young boys as their respective parents meet up to discuss the appropriate action in the lavish home of Véronique and Michel Vallon (Anita Vettesse and Colin McCredie). What begins with a tone of courteous demeanour and exchanges of refined pleasantries soon reflects what one parent heralds as, “how many parents standing up for their kids become infantile themselves?” The set mimmicks the characters’ digression; as the parents’ gentility is stripped away, the grand aesthetic of the living room becomes the victim of vomit, drunken scuffling on the floor, and a violent distribution of items previously kept in designer handbags or fashionable high-end suits.

Alan Cumming, Scottish dramatist, has remarked that “great theatre” makes us gasp, whether it be from fear, laughter or shock, and God of Carnage fits that criteria. The first 20 minutes can be categorized by the humour produced from facial expressions and body language alone which fill the polite gaps in the sophisticated conversations. The remainder of the production is replete with uproarious laughter at the characters’ descent into both madness consisting of degenerate misogynistic ideas and a childish physicality and a literal descent into the ball pool surrounding the stage, as they crawl, wrestle, and dive into the colourful symbol of youth and frivolity.

Maintaining the original French place names and characters’ names from the exceptionally well-written script alongside the especially Glaswegian cast only furthers the production’s outstanding execution of the 2006 black comedy. In a night of societal satire, God of Carnage invites its audience into the blueprint of parental juvenility in Western ‘civilisation’, making me question the limits and boundaries which stop us from stepping into dissolute giddiness just as these four characters do.

[Ellen Magee – @mondaymagee]

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