No Laughing Matter.
Chicago, Wednesday, March 16, 2011. Yasmina Reza’s triple Tony Award-winning “God of Carnage” that opened Monday at the Goodman Theatre takes its audience on a rollicking roller coaster ride of twists, dips and turns as it examines the very nature of human nature.
The 70-minute, no-intermission show is set in the living room of Veronica (Mary Beth Fisher) and Michael (Keith Kupferer)–a chic contemporary space filled with vases of tulips and many of Veronica’s art books. It seems that their eleven-year-old son has been “attacked” with a stick by the son of Annette (Beth Lacke) and Alan (David Pasquesi), resulting in two broken incisors. In order to find a civilized solution to the encounter, Veronica and Michael invite the perpetrator’s parents to their home. The couples, who have never meet before, seemingly have little in common. The encounter begins politely but soon starts spinning out of control with some hilarious missteps that build to crescendo worthy of a present day Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe intensity.
The play, written by acclaimed French Playwright Yasmina Reza (“Art” and others) and translated by Christopher Hampton, takes on one of the most daunting activities in life–parenting–in a comedy lacking in manners with a surprising belch in the middle. Playwright Reza is known for skillfully turning social tragedies into riotous comedies and does so with gusto in this translation. Director Rick Snyder’s staging takes advantage of the setting using the two sofa arrangement to originally pit couple against couple and then as the play progresses, gender against gender and other paradox configurations.
The cast are all top-notch comedic actors with precise timing. David Pasquesi as Alan, a high-powered attorney with an “I could care less attitude” and always present cell phone is the stereotypical guy that we all love to hate. Mary Beth Fisher who recently appeared at Goodman as Irina Arkadina in Seagull, played the distressed and frustrated Mom role to a riotous T. Alan’s “trophy” wife, Annette, played by Beth Lacke changed from sweet lady to monster lady on cue whenever her part required. Michael (Keith Kupferer), the seemly most normal of the foursome, keep things in perspective, but did have his moments.
God of Carnage is a very human show that uncovers the monsters that most of us have lurking under our public facades. It’s funny, sophisticated, smart theater.
Go behind the scenes with the cast and director:
God of Carnage runs through April 17, 2011 with its ensemble cast of four intact. Tickets to God of Carnage ($25 – $78) are currently on sale at GoodmanTheatre.org. Tickets and subscriptions can also be purchased at the box office at 170 North Dearborn or by phone at 312 443 3800.
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