by Lorie Lewis Ham
This weekend I had the chance to see God of Carnage, currently on stage at the Fresno Art Museum’s Bonner Auditorium, and presented by StageWorks Fresno. I always say that StageWorks Fresno never disappoints, and I can continue to stand by that. It was definitely an enjoyable evening at the theatre.
God of Carnage is an interesting play. The tagline on the program says, “A comedy of manners…without the manners,” and that is a pretty good description of what takes place on the stage. There are two couples, Veronica and Michael Novak (Shannah Estep and Chris Carsten), and Alan and Annette Raleigh (Terry Lewis and Shannon Eizinga), who have gotten together in the Novak’s living room to discuss the misbehavior of their sons. The Raleigh’s son hit the Novak’s son and they are “trying” to be civil about dealing with the situation. The couples are very different from one another. Michael is a more blue-collar type who owns a hardware store, while his wife is a writer. Alan is a lawyer and Annette is in wealth management.
Things start out civil enough, but over the course of the play things deteriorate terribly, showing that often the parents behave worse than their children. The comedy of the play comes from watching that forced civility crumble as the show progresses and the couples begin to not only attack each other, but their spouses as well. This is a very funny show, but there were moments that were a bit disturbing–like Annette’s throwing up on stage. And the behavior of these couples is horrible, and yet sadly very true to life–but then that’s what makes it funny as well.
I would say that this is definitely not a family show, and yet parents might actually learn a lesson from it. This isn’t a show that leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling, but it does make you think and laugh–a lot! Controversial topics such as racial and class prejudice, homophobia and bullying all come up during the show.
The acting and directing were perfect, which for me made the show. Terry Lewis perfectly played the jaded and business obsessed father, and Chris Carsten was hilarious as the less sophisticated self-made dad. Shannah and Shannon played well off each other and their “spouses.” Joel Abels deserves kudos for a splendid job of directing this show, and great casting.
So if you are looking for a night out that is slightly disturbing and yet very funny-you do not want to miss God of Carnage which closes this weekend! More info can be found on the StageWorks Fresno website, and you can purchase tickets there. You can also learn more on the KRL Theatre event page.
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