UncleJohn

Search This Blog

Loading...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Review: (Montreal) God of Carnage

l-r  Mark Camacho, Ellen David, Janine Theriault and Marcel Jeannin
(photo: lucetg.com)


Folie à quatre
Roy Surette’s production is a well-oiled machine. Each actor turns out a character with finely-tuned mannerisms and the propensity to go absolutely nuts. 
by Sarah Deshaies
The lights come up to reveal four people set up in a well-heeled living room. Two couples are both awkwardly hammering out the wording of a statement that will keep them in this living room and in front of us for the next 90 minutes, their flaws and foibles exploited and revealed in minute detail under a microscope.

The Novak boy was attacked by the Raleigh son, who was armed, or furnished, with a stick...
Paris-based author Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage has been staged in France, London and for a long run in New York City,  and a film version is coming this year. It’s received acclaimed reviews for the depiction of the slow unraveling of the relations between these four people. Now, it’s getting a prime Montreal staging at The Centaur. 

The Novaks, Veronica (Ellen David) and Michael (Mark Camacho) are hosting the Raleighs, Alan (Marcel Jeannin) and Annette (Janine Theriault), in their home. 
 
Michael, a practical businessman, and Veronica, a woman who writes about African genocide and is clanking with jewelry, have invited the prim, restrained Annette and her lawyer husband, Alan, who barks incessantly on a cellphone, over to hash out a civil solution to their respective sons’ schoolyard scrap. The Novak boy attacked the Raleigh son, who was armed, or furnished, with a stick (they’re arguing over the right word to use in the agreement).

Ever been stuck in an elevator or a snowed-in cabin with someone you dislike? And then added rum to the mix?
In the interest of civility, the four parents want to hammer out a situation that will help the children mature and accept the incident. But the mayhem that follows suggests that underneath the thin veneer of polite society, the parents behave even worse than their offspring. 

The Raleighs do not walk out, but are compelled to stay as an ever-ratcheting plot chains them to the Novaks. Ever been stuck in an elevator or a snowed-in cabin with someone you dislike? And then added rum to the mix? 

Michael’s “nice dad” mask comes off when he is prodded by Veronica and Annette for having left the family pet outside to perish. “Fuck the hamster,” he roars, affirming his existence as a “neanderthal.” Veronica later wails: “I’m standing up for civilization, and I live with a man who is happy with a second-rate life!” Annette and Alan’s own devolution involves a headbutt and a glass of water. Your own dysfunctional dinner party could not turn out breakdowns as spectacular as this.

Roy Surette’s production is a well-oiled machine. Each actor turns out a character with finely-tuned mannerisms and the propensity to go absolutely nuts. 

The set is satisfying (and soon torn apart). There’s a nice attention to detail: When Alan refers to a New York Times article that is going to damage his company, that really is a Times section in his hands. Veronica’s prized arts books are the real thing. 

But while Reza’s topics are serious (unhappy marriages, bullying, violence, neglect, first-world privilege) they don’t cut deeply. The play is a farce, not a melodrama, and you won’t leave wanting to slit your wrists. You’ll be snickering at the comedic performances, and maybe not thinking too hard about the deeper themes.
God of Carnage runs for 90 min. Showing at Centaur Theatre until December 4.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. Please read our guidelines for posting comments.