The God of Carnage brings two sets of parents together in one of their apartments. Their two eleven-year-old boys have had “an altercation,” as they say, on a playground, and one has hit the other with a stick, breaking two of the victim’s teeth. The parents have assembled to settle matters, to come to an agreement about medical payments, to resolve any issues the children my still have, and so on.
All seems to be adult, grown-up, and amicable, but beneath the civilized exterior and good behavior lives the god of carnage, a bestial thing that leads to less-than-admirable remarks and actions. Arguments break out, alliances shift, and cell phones and business calls keep interrupting the evening. It’s a lovely descent into chaos, one which Reza carries it off with humor and sometimes dark, wicked laughter.
The comedy carries echoes of Jean-Paul Sartre, Harold Pinter, and Samuel Beckett, for Reza’s characters find that the civilizing force of language, which shapes society and relationships, cannot bear the stress and weight of the evening. In her study of Reza’s plays in English and American production, dramaturg Amanda Giguere couples The God of Carnage with “the failure of langage”: When characters discover that language is “unreliable” and “devalued,” she writes, “their social masks droop, revealing the animals within.” And when the animals in a small, confined space are released, they don’t especially practice good behavior.
The God of Carnage opened in London in 2008 and won that season’s Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. Likewise, the New York production won the Tony Award for Best Play. The Bloomington production, which has yet to open, let alone be nominated, begins performances in the Wells-Metz Theatre on November 30, playing through December 8. You can get your tickets now. For details about tickets, times, and days of performance, etc. click the link here.