Friday, February 7, 2014

Quick Hit Theater Review: God of Carnage -- Music Theatre of CT

Jim Schilling, John Flaherty, Marty Bongfeldt and Cynthia Hannah. Photo: Joe Landry


God of Carnage
By Yasmina Reza
Directed by Mark Torres
Translated by Christopher Hampton
Music Theatre of Connecticut

What's It All About?
It's the riotously play about a fight on a school playground -- and so much more -- that won the 2009 Tony for Best Play. Two couples get together to "politely" discuss the mishap between their sons and end up acting like a bunch of schoolchildren themselves. It's really funny stuff as hosts Veronica and Michael (Cynthia Hannah and Jim Schilling) serve clafouti (check out what that is here) while trying not to pass judgment on the parenting skills of their guests, Annette and Alan (Marty Bongfeldt and John Flaherty), the parents of the boy who knocked their son's teeth out during the playground altercation. Meanwhile, attorney Alan, who readily admits his son is a savage, barely participates in the conversation as he keeps taking cell phone calls about a possible lawsuit against a drug company he represents. When things get sticky, the group turns to alcohol, which loosens the tongues and insults even more.

What are the Highlights?
A very funny script. One of those rare, laugh-all-the-way through pieces. Besides being funny, it's deep and the characters develop nicely despite a 90-minute, no intermission time frame. Flaherty stands out as the uncaring, preoccupied father and Bonfeldt compliments him nicely as the neglected, unhappy mother with an upset stomach.

What Are The Lowlights?
The direction here is uneven, with a pace too slow to sharpen the barbs. Actors stay in yell mode and some of the more subtle jokes, often intended to be mumbled under the breath or as asides, are lost. Flaherty's character is supposed to be the least engaged, but he's the most comfortable in his role and stands out. Hannah and Schilling seem miscast in the roles and with each other. Lines don't roll off the tongue naturally. And what are these women wearing (Costumes designed by Diane Vanderkroef)? Veronica's African print skirt might pass, since her career takes her on that cultural path, but Annette's animal print design seems a blatant attempt to say "playground jungle."

More Information:
God of Carnage runs through Feb. 16 at Music Theatre of Connecticut, 246 Post Road East in Colonial Green (lower level) in Westport (click here for information about MTC's new home for next season). Performances are Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 and 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets  $25-$45 ($5 off for seniors/students, subject to availability). Reservations suggested. Call 203.454.3883 or visit www.musictheatreofct.com.


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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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