In “God of Carnage,” Yasmina Reza’s 2009 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning play brilliantly featuring rich white parents behaving badly, all the cards—along with the clothes, the contents of a purse, the flowers and some bodily fluids—are lain out on the table.
Two high society parents—one liberal, the other conservative—civilly meet one afternoon over a pretty brutal schoolyard fight between their 11-year-old sons. After a few well-placed insults, some heavy booze and projectile vomit, what can only be described as carnage quickly ensues.
New Players Theater (showing “Carnage” through Nov. 18 at the Columbus Performing Arts Center, 549 Franklin Ave, Columbus) makes a bold (and much appreciated) move staging such a recent Broadway hit as their first major show of 2012. I personally love when local theater troupes tackle productions hot from Broadway. It shows bravado and a keen eye for the the taste of a modern theatergoer, and NPT hit this one way out of the park.
Director Matt Hermes (last seen in a brilliant undertaking of Beethoven in Available Light Theatre’s “33 Variations”) is astute and takes his time with Reza’s powder-keg of a script, translated by Christopher Hampton. He slowly builds the tension with tempered movements and by the end has the actors flailing about uncontrollably to accentuate their animal-like behavior.
Sonda Staley, a wealthy society wife, and Jill Taylor, a bleeding heart intellectual, are firecrackers that explode with brilliant comedic timing, both perfectly delivering Reza’s searing wit. While Nick Baldasare—a smarmy lawyer who treats his phone like an intricate dance partner, weaving in an out of conversations with ease, to the brutal annoyance of his wife and hosts—and Tim Browning hilariously run the gamut of The Three Stooges, drinking buddies and sparring neanderthals.
Set and lighting designer Tracie Lynn Duncan’s upscale Brooklyn living room is the perfectly ironic backdrop for such buffoonery, but I must admit I didn’t care for the plywood-based hardwood floor high rise the set sat on. A large floor rug would have set the same stylish tone, but eliminated the overwhelming creaking that plagued the performance.
It’s clear that Reza is playing with the age-old juxtaposition of the id and superego in “Carnage,” but she delights in the emotional bloodbath so well that you forget your getting a lesson in Freudian psychoanalytics.
New Players Theater presents “God of Carnage” through Nov. 18 in the Van Fleet Theatre at the Columbus Performing Arts Center, 549 Franklin Ave, Columbus. Tickets are $20 with Sunday shows operating under the company’s “Pay-What-You-Will” program. Visit www.newplayers.org for more information.