Theater review: God of Carnage

Four people reveal their true natures as a civilized evening spins out of control

Theater goers in Prague are recently spoiled for choice, with several English-language companies putting on high-quality productions.

Blood, Love and Rhetoric is now presenting their latest production, God of Carnage, at Divadlo D21 in Vinohrady. It runs to May 8 at 7:30 nightly.

God of Carnage was written by French playwright Yasmina Reza and translated into English by Christopher Hampton. The humor remains very French, despite the relocation of the action to modern-day New York.

The plot concerns two sets of parents who meet to discuss a fight earlier in the day between their two unseen 11-year-old children. Benjamin, the son of Alan (Logan Hillier) and Annette (Beathe Linde) knocked out two teeth of Henry, the son of Michael (Michael Pitthan) and Veronica (Angela Jane Kemp). The reasons behind the fight remain a bit in dispute, with accusations going back and forth as the evening progresses.

The four adults meet in Michael and Veronica’s apartment to talk about the problem in a civilized way, just as reasonable and mature persons would have done. The only problem is that the four characters are anything but reasonable and mature.

Alan is a lawyer constantly on his cell phone and who has really little time for his family. Annette is in what she calls wealth management and tries to put on a good appearance. Michael is a hardware wholesaler with a mother who is not in good health. Veronica is writing a book about a tragedy in Africa and is passionate about art.

We can already imagine that the common ground will not be easy to find.

At the beginning, the discussion is cordial but full of hypocrisy. It quickly devolves as social niceties are replaced by more primal human nature.

The interpretation by the cast, directed by John Malafronte, is successful in delivering the script's humor. They wonderfully express the animosity hidden in people behind a front of normality.

Beathe Linde and Angela Jane Kemp are especially good as women who seem more reasonable and responsible than their husbands at the beginning of the play but become more irrational over time.

Michael Pitthan and Logan Hillier also step up to the mark as two men trying to make efforts to feel concerned about the situation but quickly revealing their true personalities of machismo and egotism.

All of the cast has extensive experience on the Prague theater scene, and they have a good rapport with each other on stage.

The play makes you laugh but also poses questions about our supposedly civilized society.

One drawback with the staging is that the theater is a bit cramped, especially when it is sold out, as it was for the opening. Some of the action with the props on a coffee table can be hard to see.

The play was such a success in France, where it premiered in 2006, that it has been adapted on the stage in London and New York, and Roman Polanski made a film version in 2011.

Blood, Love and, Rhetoric is an English-language theater company created in 2009. Aside from plays it also regularly does improv.

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