Aired on KSDS-FM on 11/4/16
RUN DATES: 10/14/16 – 11/13/16
VENUE: New Village Arts
Kids are little sponges, right? From birth, they soak up whatever oozes or spews from their parents.
Never was this so graphically demonstrated as in Yazmina Reza’s 2008 dramedy, “God of Carnage.” The first salvo is fired in a playground brawl, where one 11 year-old hits another with a stick, knocking out some teeth and injuring his pride.
But the real carnage comes when the two sets of parents meet to decide how to deal with the scuffle. Then we get a fine display of the decline of civilization – or at least, civility.
As director Jessica Bird sees it, our journey to adulthood forces us into a black and white world, with emotions tamped down, angry outbursts perpetually held in check. So her dazzling production at New Village Arts is all black and white – from the props to the costumes, to the stunning set.
When frustration and resentment mount – within and between the couples — and the veneer is stripped away, the impassioned acts are physicalized in bright primary colors – projectile vomiting in electric blue, vase water in screaming yellow, etc. The infantile behavior creates a Crayola-colored mess.
“I believe in the God of Carnage,” the callous lawyer proclaims, “a god who has ruled uninterruptedly since the dawn of time.”
When morality and courtesy break down, devastation follows. Watching it is somehow liberating and fun, more fun here than in prior productions I’ve seen. Bird’s take on the play is not realistic from the get-go. Things devolve, but not in expected ways, and that makes it even more entertaining, however horrifying.
The cast is uniformly terrific. The talented duo, Manny and Melissa Fernandes — not playing mates — are mixed, and well matched, with Kristianne Kurner and Jeffrey Keith Jones.
Needless to say, we’ve seen enough of a breakdown of civility and gentility over the interminable months of this political campaign. Somehow, it’s voyeuristically amusing to watch these entitled narcissists go at it. But it doesn’t exactly make you want to rip off your own masks and frolic in the rabid rainbow.
©2016 PAT LAUNER, San Diego Theater Reviews