God of Carnage

God of Carnageby Yasmina Reza; dir Helen Withers
Criterion Theatre, Earlsdon, Coventry
23 – 30 March 2013
3 stars

God of Carnage is a play by Yasmina Reza about two couples, one of whose child has hurt the other at a public park, who meet to discuss the matter in a civilized manner. As the play unfolds we learn that kids will be kids, but when two sets of parents get together it can become absolute carnage.

The play was a success in its original French, and whilst it has been widely acclaimed as an English-translated production, I wasn’t enamoured of it. I just didn’t quite see why it was funny, and I’m not entirely convinced the cast did either. That’s not to say it isn’t worth watching, and whilst I didn’t like the script or perhaps the translation, my opinion of the production itself was mainly positive.

All four performances were strong considering what they had to work with and I particularly enjoyed Trev Clarke’s hamster rant (this bit was funny; I’d recommend going for this alone) and Annie Gay’s projectile vomit stunt, and Cathryn Bowler’s performance of a woman quickly descending from the high-brow heights of common decency into a rum-drinking, potty-mouthed woman on the edge is also pretty funny and performed very well. Jon Elves was convincing as a parent who had something far better to do than stay analysing the behaviour of his child Ferdinand, but I’m not sure if that was him in character or the actor’s true feelings coming through.

A rather large gripe of mine, hinted at above, was the translation, which I found rather odd. I don’t know if this was the theatre’s interpretation or was as written, but if you want an audience to believe and be taken in by what they’re watching then you have to make it make sense! Bruno and Ferdinand are French names (beautiful as they are), no modern man calls a woman “madam” anymore and (here I show my ignorance) what the hell is a Clafouti?

Overall I would say it’s worth watching. The performances were good and the set itself was beautifully designed and, if you like a bit of farce then I suggest you see it. Oh, and there’s no interval so you’re out and at the bar a lot earlier than normal – now that’s a bonus.



One thought on “God of Carnage

  1. A clafoutis is a rather scrummy fruit flan. When I worked at Marconi in Coventry in the 1990s our staff canteen occasionally used to serve it as the daily pudding, so it’s hardly new or trendy. Your own lack of knowledge seems an odd thing to criticise the play for.

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