Michel and his wife Veronique are hosting an uncomfortable little tea party for another couple, Alain and Annette. The connection between the two couples is the assault by the visitors’ 11-year-old son Ferdinand on the hosts’ slightly younger son Bruno, removing two teeth. The initial exchanges between the couples are predictably strained, as each fights to protect the reputation of their own son, while diplomatically seeking peace, like politicians at the end of a lengthy war.

Several times they almost manage to sign off on their verbal peace treaty but again and again, jockeying for position makes something go awry. Gradually, civility gives way to outrageous behaviour that never quite goes beyond the bounds of likelihood. As initial forced bonhomie disappears, the metaphorical gloves are taken off and the comedy becomes the kind at which one is forced to laugh out loud which is really this playwright’s strength. Every one of these characters is entirely believable; while polite and calm on the outside, it does not take a lot for the pent-up fury at life’s frustrations to come to the surface.

With its oblique commentary on the price of success today, God of Carnage once again shows us what a good and extremely funny observer of contemporary social mores this playwright can be, especially when siphoned through the brain and pen of her translator, Christopher Hampton.

Cast

DirectorSteve Reading
Alan ReilleJason Harris
Annette ReilleAmy Burns
Veronique VallonHelen Reading
Michel VallonJoel Leverton