Poignantly hilarious is this Tony Award winning play God of Carnage. Two sets of very different parents are brought together when their 11 year old sons engage in a little youthful combat resulting in one boy losing two teeth. Michael and Veronica Novak the parents of Henry, the injured boy invite Alan and Annette Raleigh, parents of Benjamin over for a civilized discussion of the matter. Somewhat slowly at first the façade of human societal evolution is stripped away with the inevitability of the sunset.
As the conversation develops there is a steady and building stream of verbal jabs and zings. One pivotal point along the way is when the Novak’s learn that Alan Raleigh is a lawyer and his wife Annette is in well, wealth management. Michael Novak proudly details his home supply business that among other things sells pans and toilet fixtures. His wife Veronica, well she “writes” picture books about Africa, a continent she has never set foot upon. Here is where the thread of the conversation shifts from the children to each of the adults and the humor explodes across the set. Along the way Michael Novak proudly claims the he is a “Neanderthal.” As the dialogue plummets from urbane and sophisticated to sharp and bitter the audience laughter grows from a few polite chuckles to an overwhelming nonstop rush.
Each actor is utterly outstanding. Leslie Stevens as Veronica Novak, Greg Derelian as Michael Novak, Alet Taylor as Annette Raleigh and David Nevell as Alan Raleigh each and all delivered at peak performance. It was that along with Yasmina Reza’s brilliant script that combined to bring everyone in the audience into the scene. This wasn’t really about four strangers; God of Carnage is about all of us. Somewhere at some point along the way everyone watching could see themselves in at least one of the characters and that revelation generated unstoppable laughter.
Artistic Director caryn desai chose to launch the International City Theatre’s 27th season with God of Carnage and I would say she made a superb choice. God of Carnage did indeed win a Tony Award for “Best Play” and when it comes to identifying and rewarding top performance East Coast Tony is right up there with West Coast Oscar.
God of Carnage will only be in town for four short weeks, so do not miss this great show. It is at the International City Theatre which is a part of the magnificent Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90802 now through February 19th. Information and reservations are available online at www.international citytheatre.org on calling 562-436-4610.
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