first night

God of Carnage

Emily Beech sees the first show of the term from Kronos Productions.

God of Carnage begins with a picture of social awkwardness as two ever-so-middle-class couples are forced to discuss a fight which took place in the local park, and which concerned both their sons. However, any fault lines or hostility which lurk beneath the surface soon begin to threaten. All it takes is a few rounds of whiskey and those who are cool, calm and collected spiral in a phase of hysterical pandemonium.

The actors expertly executed this descent from conservatism into outright chaos. Alex Wingfield made a suitably arrogant and condescending chauvinist whilst Michael Forde displayed perhaps the best comic timing of the bunch with his pessimistic and dysphemistic remarks. Although perhaps not as convincing in the start, Elissa Churchill pitched her drunken portrayal perfectly to the delight of an enthusiastic audience. Finally, Grace Cheatle successfully made Veronica nauseating enough to even excuse Annette (Elissa Churchill) from reaching for the bucket, whilst her later psychological melt down was one of the comic highlights of the play. All the cast must be credited on their ability to convey the hilariously fractious dynamics of the group and their constant switches of allegiance. As for the staging, the attention to detail made our invasion into Michael and Veronica’s home even more credible.  
If God of Carnage speaks any truths about the dark side of human nature, as director Ben Weaver-Hincks suggests, it is found in the dialogue. The characters are ‘far more authentic when showing [themselves] in an angry light’ as Alan (Alex Wingfield) remarks. Annette is labelled a phony and even Michael quickly loses his diplomatic charm. As the play progresses, their amiable pretences falter and civility is pushed into the wings. When the flood gates open, everything becomes an annoyance, every utterance an accusation. In truth, the play actually deals with failing marriages and frustrated angers and it could be easy for the comedy to be lost in uneasiness and pity. However, God of Carnage emerges as a comic triumph by exposing the futility of the disputes and their riotous childish behaviour. In this play, harmony does not depend upon the conflicts of class or political disparity but teeters on the fate of a poor defenceless hamster. This ridiculing of the pettiness of domestic disagreement is to hilarious effect. 
Lasting only 75 minutes, there being no weak link in the cast and having a fabulous script, why not make seeing God of Carnage a revision break? At least when watching you can take some comfort in the knowledge that any exams stress has not culminated in a suspiciously soggy art book or ‘the worst day of your life’ … at least not yet.


Emily Beech

3 May 2013

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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