God of Carnage
by Yasmine Reza
60 min / Dark Comedy / Mature
Stendhal’s X’s adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s play Le Dieu du carnage is a great addition to Ottawa Fringe.
The story begins with an act of violence between two children that takes place before the opening scene. When the play begins, their parents are meeting each other for the first time to discuss the fall-out. What starts as a polite, if strained, conversation about crime and punishment escalates into a chaotic evening where no one is in control.
The battle lines of moral superiority are quickly drawn, at first between the couples. But as the situation devolves it’s every person for themselves. It was darkly comic to watch the four characters make and break alliances with each other as civility slips away.
God of Carnage can be seen as a mocking portrait of middle class respectability. The characters say the right things and keep house just so, but underneath the veneer there are no moral values, only insecurities and selfishness. Be that as it may, the drama really comes from what happens once the veil is lifted. We see moments of humour and sympathy between the characters even when they let their weaknesses dictate their actions. The play mines the tension in relationships where some grievances are perceived, but some are legitimate. And after a while it becomes hard to tell them apart.
The actors gamely follow each other down the rabbit hole of dysfunction in a production that did not have a slow moment for the entire hour. None of the characters are particularly likeable, and that made them even more hilarious. The audience was thoroughly enjoying themselves on opening night. If you like being a fly-on-the-wall to unravelling marriages, or like plays with strong ensemble casts, God of Carnage is for you.
God of Carnage, produced by Stendhal X, is playing at Academic Hall (133 Séraphin-Marion) until Sunday June 24, 2018. Tickets cost $12. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.