Friday, October 15, 2010

Show #56 "God of Carnage" at Seattle Repertory Theatre

Three words: "adults behaving badly."

That about sums up the opening show for the Seattle Rep's 2010-2011 season.

Well....okay. I will amend that statement. "Adults behaving badly (with jokes)."

THAT kind of sums up what "God of Carnage" has to offer the audience at the Bagley Wright Theater space at the Seattle Rep.

French playwright Yasmina Reza is a familiar name for me, having seen another work by her, "Art." And despite what I just said in the previous paragraph, her humor is actually not joke-driven. The laughs in her scripts are situational and relationship-driven. Usually, I like that. Not this time.

Whenever an author sets out to skewer something (in this case, the slippery journey known as parenting), I am there. Life must be met with humor, it is made for laughter. Difficult moments in life are made for loud guffaws. How else can we manage those hard times?

But, whatever we laugh at, or laugh with, there must always be one thing that remains in the situation. What is that? It is love. Without love, we are lost. So is our humor.

"God of Carnage" tells the story of two sets of upper income couples who knock heads over a playground spat between their sons. Politeness is the ground rule in the beginning, but soon, the gloves come off and mayhem ensues. Sounds like fun......

But what became apparent to me (and to Randy) as the play developed was that there was precious little love between husband and wife in both couples. And, naturally, none of the four persons on stage were friends with any of the others. So, the insults, flying barbs and temper tantrums failed to amuse us.

As I recalled the old sitcom "All in the Family" from the 1970s, Archie Bunker and crew also screamed, insulted and threw flaming arrows at one another. But the difference was, when all was said and done, Archie, Edith, Gloria and Meathead all loved one another. They were family, and they always stuck together when the chips were down. We never doubted that for a moment. Family squabbles were a source for humor.

Not so with "Carnage." By the end of the show, we had no doubt that all four characters probably despised one another, and that both marriages had little to stand on. Where is the humor in that? When we witness their fighting, it is sad....and positively annoying.

Apparently, much of the audience last evening would disagree with me on this. Several people gave the actors a standing ovation. I guess the actors did deserve some praise. With lesser actors, this show would have been totally insufferable. These four professionals showed how skilled their craft really is.

But, sadly, that wasn't enough. Without love in the story, I cannot laugh. Without the foundationa of love, all we can do is hate...and cry.

Photo courtesy of Seattle Repertory Theatre


  1. We saw it here, for our first wedding anniversary.

    Made in Scotland: God Of Carnage

    Hope the clafouti went down well!

    Truthfully, if you understand the French sensibility I think you get it better. It translated Ok here in UK, but I suspect it's harder in the US, save for the closer (really close) you get to Canada's east coast.


  2. Aya: just a thought. If you haven't heard 2010 25th anniversary cast Les Mis recodring, go get it, it's fab (NB the 2010 cast, NOT the 25th anniversary O2 recording, and you shoukld notice various differences)!