Thursday November 23rd 2017

“God of Carnage”

For those who love “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and recall the humor of television’s big hit “All in The Family’- in other words dysfunctional, side splitting comedy, you are in for a treat with the Tony Award winning “God of Carnage” written by Yasmina Reza and now on stage at The Goodman Theatre. The best word to describe this sensational comedy is, WOW!. Seventy minutes of pure drama-comedy performed by four very talented actors and under the direction of the highly skilled Rick Snyder. In the press notes they  mention that this play is about “parenting” .The whole premise for the two involved couples to come together is that one son has beaten up the ther and as parents they are meeting to try and resolve how to handle this situation, but as the story unfolds , we learn that it more than “parenting” involved- it is the human experience and marriage and family and life that Reza explores and this translation by Christopher Hampton makes complete sense for all cultures and people of all countries. It shows that both couples have the same types of social problems, despite their lifestyles and economic status. The couple whose son has been injured, Michael ( the always  reliableKeith Kupferer) has a small business and his wife, Veronica ( Mary Beth Fisher, who as always ,can do no wrong) is a writer. The other couple, Alan ( deftly handled by David Pasquesi) is an attorney who is highly involved in his career and Annette ( the adorable Beth Lacke). All four of these actors have an innate sense of comic timing and play off each other to perfection.

What starts out as a calm meeting to discuss how these two couples can keep their sons from a continuing war of personalities, but as the afternoon progresses, we begin to learn more about their own personalities and relationships disclosing to us that all four of these people are not happy with their lot in life or even their spouses. What  transpires during this meeting is a virtual war between these couples as to  what is right and what is wrong and rather than adult attitudes, they become more like kids fighting over a toy or wanting to be first in line- very base. In this rip-roaring, side splitting comedy, we have characters who fall apart at the seams right before our eyes; Alan, a tough Lawyer is on the phone trying to put out a major business fire with a client that has a medicine that appears to be dangerous. Michael’s mother it seems is being told to take this medicine. As the tension grows between the couples and each other, we have lots of physical comedy added to the comic  words of Reza. These four actors are truly up to the task that Snyder creates as they tear into each other, throw props around the stage and verbal abuse at each other. The physical and mental comedy is so well executed that this hour of pure comedy seems like it is over to soon. I , for one, wanted it to go on and let me get into their heads, just a bit deeper- they are wonderful characters and despite being made larger than life for theatrical purposes, very well.

The magnificent set by Takeshi Kata truly lets us feel that we in a nice home, owned by  an upper middle class family. The costumes by Birgit Rattenborg Wise also depict the fashion and style of upper class. Robert Christen handles the lighting to set the mood and while they do not give credit to the prop and stagehands, they should. The props are many and perfect and based on the carnage of these items, have a big cleanup after each performance and a lot of set-up for the next. Great job! We all love our children ( or at least I hope we do) and want to give them better lives than our own with more “stuff”, but parenting is a lot more than “giving stuff” to your kids, it is communication to go with that lve and of course respect for you and for each other. These four people do not live up to any of this. Alan spends very little time with his son as he is tied to his cell phone ( something that never would have happened in years past) and what takes place regarding this phone is something that will make a lot of you applaud. In fact, much of the carnage that takes place on the stage of the Goodman is actual and deserves to be applauded as in many cases, it is something that we wish we had the nerve to do ourselves. Let’s face it, what we see in this sterling and brilliant production is what we see in real life- in restaurants, at parties, at the park- it is happening everywhere- real people attempting to do more than they can, but don’t realize it.

“Carnage” will continue at The Goodman Theatre located at 170 N. Dearbiorn  through April 17th ( already extended) with performances on Wednesdays  and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.,Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7:30 p.m.

matinees are on Thursdays (3/17-3/24), Saturdays ( starting 3/26) and Sundays at 2 p.m.

There is no evening performance on April 3rd and an additional performance on Tuesday ,March 29th at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets range in price from $25 to $78 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 312-443-3800 or online at

MEZZTIX is a program that allows for half price tickets on day of show ( subject to availability) NOT SOLD BY PHONE and 10Tix are rear mezzanine for students at $10, again subject to availability

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