Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
ACTORS Zachary Tyynismaa and Emily Vawter (Alan and Annett) and Joe Garoutte and Kim Robichaud (Michael and Veronica) in a pivotal scene from a well-intentioned meeting of two sets of parents that turns vitriolic, with the help of some latent feelings and a bottle of rum, in the staged reading of “God of Carnage.”
As of Tuesday, October 16, 2018
“Sticks and stones can break my bones” … but when Benjamin hits Henry and breaks two of his teeth at a nearby park, it starts two sets of parents on a comically explosive downhill slide from political correctness to character assassination.
The setting is the staged reading of “God of Carnage,” opening Saturday at River Daze Café.
Director Judie Hanel notes, “‘God of Carnage’ is a hilariously harrowing look at the minefield of modern marriage and raising children.”
As such, the play is not suitable for children 12 and under, given mature themes and some harsh language.
Yasmina Reza’s (translation by Christopher Hampton) won the 2009 Tony Award for Best Play.
Hanel frames the story this way:
Michael and Veronica are Henry’s daddy and mommy. Alan and Annette are Benjamin’s daddy and mommy.
Now the grownups have decided to meet and talk. They will work out a solution because they are grownups.
Because grownups know how to handle things better than kids ... right?
Actors Joe Garoutte and Kim Robichaud (Michael and Veronica) and Emily Vawter and Zachary Tyynismaa (Annette and Alan) take the audience for a spin through a cycle of comic and caustic emotions in this 90-minute (no intermission) production.
Incessant cell-phone use, a dead hamster and a sudden bout of stomach sickness complicate the interactions. There’s no physical violence in this, but emotional punches are thrown, inter- and intra-couple.
Yet violence, starting with the title word, very quickly pokes close to the surface.
Says Alan, “They’re young, they’re kids, kids have always given each other a good beating during recess. It’s a law of life.”
Vernonica protests, ‘“No it isn’t!”
Alan: “Of course it is. You have to go through a kind of apprenticeship before violence gives way to what’s right. Originally, let remind you, might was right.”
Emotions, and even alliances, shift continually as long-hidden cultural, gender and social attitudes come to the fore as the two sets of parents attempt a mutually-acceptable solution to the problem.
At one of several apparent turning points, Michael points to his wife and asks, “See what I have to live with?”
Veronica: “Shut up! Will you shut up? I detest this pathetic complicity! You disgust me!”
Michael: “Come on, have a sense of humor.”
Veronica: “I don’t have a sense of humor. And I have no intention of acquiring one.”
As Hanel puts it, “We’ll see four adults come together for a civilized evening of coffee, clafouti and conversation about their kids. But frayed nerves soon surface and the grownups begin to outdo their pugnacious children in bad behavior, disproving the notion that ‘words can never hurt me.”’
Judie Hanel Presents’ staged reading of “God of Carnage” runs Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 27-28 at 7:30 p.m. at River Daze Café, Second and Cascade streets. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and children over 12 at Waucoma Bookstore or at the door.
This play contains mature themes and language.