One might not necessarily think of intense and hilarious as words to describe the same play, but God of Carnage at the Alliance Theatre could aptly be described as both. A recent Broadway hit, God of Carnage provides a lively evening of theater to say the least.
Before the play begins, two boys get in a fight with one boy hitting the other with a stick, knocking out teeth. At the start of the play, one couple, the Novaks have invited the Raleighs to their home to discuss having the boys talk through their issues. As the discussion of the incident progresses, opinions of the issue, each other and world events begin to cause the friendly atmosphere to devolve into a chaotic one.
As Veronica Novak, Jasmine Guy displays the poise and vibrato necessary to pull off the character. Similarly, Crystal Fox as Annette Raleigh delivers an entertaining performance while at the same time drawing empathy from the audience. Keith Randolph Smith plays Michael Novak and his character goes through the most change during the play, but Smith handles it with ease.
Initially, most of the confrontational exchanges are between Veronica and Alan Raleigh, played by Geoffrey Darnell Williams. The comedic timing of Williams is excellent as he goes back and forth between making business calls and delivering curt quips.
Set designer Edward E. Haynes, Jr. has designed a stylish, modern living room for the Novak’s home. Before seeing the living room, audience members are thrust into the premise of the play upon viewing the show curtain. Not only does it depict the fight between the two children, but it also symbolizes the disaster about to ensue.
Director Kent Gash has put together a quick-paced play that builds on its own energy. Even with that accomplishment, there are places where it feels like the play doesn’t quite reach its potential. Part of the problem is the introspective script, which offers witty, hilarious moments juxtaposed against intense areas, but it doesn’t go anywhere. These flaws are hidden by skillful direction and the talents of the four actors.
This production of Yasmina Reza’s play is the first to feature an African-American cast, further proving that Reza’s characters are universal. Whether or not you have seen the recently released feature film (with the title shortened to Carnage), God of Carnage will leave you laughing while at the same time contemplating your own relationships.
God of Carnage runs through February 4 at the Alliance Theatre. The show’s running time is just under an hour and a half with no intermission. For tickets and more information, please visit the Alliance Theatre’s website.
– A. Wesley