Wednesday, June 1, 2011

God of Carnage



Made my first trip to the new (to me) Guthrie Theater last night for the preview performance of their new play God of Carnage. The show, set in one solid 90 minute block, was a drama featuring two couples coming together to talk about a fight their sons had engaged in during school. During the course of the conversation, demons are revealed and couples were split as a playground fight seemed to unearth problems that may not have been expected when the discussion began. There was the usual man vs women, tough vs weak, passive vs aggressive, but one of the downsides of the play was their avoidance of issues that I thought they would dive into. Their were racially charged words and homophobic statements, but from the preview I was suspecting these deeper subjects would be examined with closer attention. Instead the arguments centered more around the emotionless husband who killed the hamster and the workaholic, emotionless husband whose cell phone was more important than his sick wife. The arguemtns were real and visceral (and, to their credit quite funny), but they seemed, at least to me, very surface level.

While I wished they would have touched, or at least reached for, that third rail in a somewhat more direct fashion, the dialogue as presented was brisk and entertaining. The 90 minutes flew by and the four characters were equally funny, provoking, emotional and versatile. With such a small cast you had a chance to watch the performers idiosyncrasies and see how their performance, both when they were in the spotlight and when they were off on the side using more non verbal cues, really involved them pushing themselves to explore these broken, fragile and complex characters.

The best part about the play, to me, was that it felt slightly like a exaggeration on a real life situation....but not too much. The flesh left from broken relationships and failed dreams was laid out heavy and was presented in a blunt and affecting way, especially their lifelike, "colorful" language. (Fair warning...don't bring Grandma if she can't handle the F Bomb) God of Carnage does well in presenting four people, suffering in different ways, who fight and tussle in their quest to find both individual, and group, salvation. Like real life, they found it isn't so easy when you get down to the nitty gritty of things. While there was a chance to explore more controversial issues, I can safely safe that the material presented was entertaining and thought provoking, providing both laughs and cringes, and an overall success for my first play at the Guthrie.