Aston Rep's GOD OF CARNAGE Is a Vernacular Volley-Ball Match

The mask of familial harmony is ripped off and the wounds are exposed in Yazmina Reza’s hit God of Carnage, the 2009 Tony Award winning comedy which was recently turned into a feature film. The plot centers on two upper middle-class couples trying to come to terms with a violent episode involving their 11 year old boys. After one of the boys clobbers another with a stick and knocks some of his teeth out, words of guilt, blame and apology are dissected in a vernacular volley ball match. We soon find out that the apple doesn’t fall from the tree, and the explosive behavior in their children manifests into a free for all with the parents. Ms. Reza, who also penned the award winning ART in 1996, is a genius at exposing upper-middle class neurosis and narcissism and God of Carnage gives us that is spades.

This Chicago remount is produced by Aston Rep and contains some hilarious moments but also seems to miss the much of the intended human drama of the piece. Under director Doug Long, this version is either over or under rehearsed as cast members kept walking over each other’s lines on opening night thereby causing major pacing problems on the confined stage of BoHo Theatre. Rule one is that an actor must believe what they are saying. To many times in this production, the actors looked like the were trying to remember what line came next and worse, their actions looked to be predetermined. A major irritant was that the character Ala

n, a lawyer, was continually answering a seemingly silent cell phone (or mildly vibrating). The purpose of the cellphone is to provide a constant symphonic distraction to the verbal action. Regardless of what the script may say, there needs to be an audible ring to break the rhythm of the dialogue (as it does when Veronica and Michael’s house phone rings) which then increasingly irritates the other characters. Again, this action just doesn’t seem natural.

The cast itself does save this production from the directorial carnage. Amy Kasper’s Annette is comic gold. As her husband, Robert Tobin expertly handles the legalistic moxy of Alan. Ray Kasper’s Michael has some of the best lines in the play and his dead-pan delivery is hilarious along side Kelly Lynn Hogan’s vacillating dissent into a liquor filled stupor as Veronica which creates the underlying truth of the evening.

By the end of this production, God of Carnage does accomplish what it has set out to do and that is to knock the ego down a couple notches and expose the truth behind what people would like the world to see them as instead of the flawed human beings we all are.

God of Carnage runs through November 17, 2012 at Boho Theatre, 7016 N. Glenwood, Chicago. For more information and ticket purchase, please visit www.astonrep.com. For calendar information visit www.theatreinchicago.com

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