EFR - Reviews of God of Carnage

God of Carnage

Sat 3rd – Sat 24th August 2013

reviews

Amber Segal

at 02:12 on 6th Aug 2013

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In the same vein as Edward Albee's 'Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' (they share a vomiting motif among others) Yasmin Reza’s 'God of Carnage' depicts the conversations of two couples - at first strained then explosive. These antagonistic pairs are constantly shifting. Michel and Annette rebel against their different versions of brow-beating, while Veronique and Alain seem to have more in common than first meets the eye when her inherent materialism pokes through the eccentric façade.

YO10’s extremely high quality of production gave the show intricate touches; the African mask under the coffee table and a fully functional hairdryer created a very believable atmosphere. Looking voyeuristically straight into the middle-class living room set (or down on it if you aren't in the front row) the drama was instantly immersive. As formalities were done away with, the central sofa became a battle ground: wives against husbands; men against women; and everyone against everyone.

In contrasting costumes, the four characters were instantly recognisable as familiar types, but clichés were soon done away with and constantly challenged. The mature acting was especially strong from Helena Clarke as Annette. With impeccable comic timing and controlled expressions, her drunk acting was some of the funniest I've seen in a while, and her remarks seemed to cut deeper than the rest. Lily Cooper was fittingly high pitched as the talkative Veronique, and although her shouting became grating after a while, this was clearly the intention. Playing such unlikable characters, the cast did a fantastic job of humanising them; even the rampantly misogynistic Alain, George Rowell, had moments of sympathy through his successfully patronising tone. Max Fitzroy-Stone as Michel played a convincing descent into his own personal carnage.

The ending, however, felt somewhat abrupt. Signified by a very loud clap from the back rather than a natural lull, I would have liked a few more moments of thought before the applause. Although it had reached its limit of witty cruelty and the tension had abated, I was expecting a slightly more definitive close.

Other than this, Rory McGregor’s directing brought the play to life. Every exchange was delivered with painful naturalism and the surprising moments of action perfectly timed and executed with precision. His attention to detail on all fronts resulted in a bold and intelligent drama. 'God of Carnage' was adult, professional and full of energy.

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Anjali Joseph

at 09:50 on 6th Aug 2013

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The set of ‘God of Carnage’ was so middle class it hurt, from the pretentious coffee table art books to the tribal mask and the silk pillows. However, this was more than just another commentary on middle class existence and, in the space of an hour-long show, the ensemble demonstrated their range and capacity as actors. ‘God of Carnage’ was evidently well-directed too; Rory McGregor’s attention to detail was one aspect which made this production so successful.

The premise and script leave little room for weak links in the ensemble. The many awkward silences that this play necessitates left the cast fully exposed. Small directorial details, such as the perfectly choreographed chinking of glasses, and the silent farce of Michel (Max Fitzroy-Stone) dropping klafoutis crumbs as his wife looks on, appalled, maintained the energy and momentum of this piece, and were elegantly orchestrated by the ensemble.

The comedy in this production is not derived solely from the script, but the visible decline in the characters’ controlled cordiality to an infantile state of rage, and the abandonment of their values in favour of racism, homophobia and misogyny. It was wonderful to observe Max Fitzroy-Stone’s gradual transformation from the long-suffering but amiable peacekeeper, to increasingly tense altercations with his wife, to the full-blown abandon of his fury. The minutiae of George Rowell’s performance, the jiggling leg, chewed tongue and clenched jaw, perfected his portrayal of the swaggering lawyer, Alain, and made him the picture of ill-disguised contempt.

Helena Clarke was outstanding in the role of Annette. Vocally, her cadence and expression was remarkable, and it was as though her voice had sunk with age, resulting in a timbre one would expect from the headmistress of a finishing school. Physically she was fascinating to watch, her deterioration from well-bred poise to a slurring, sneering, vomiting wreck was done with subtlety. This was less the case with Lily Cooper’s portrayal of Veronique, which felt slightly binary. Arguably armed with some of the best lines in the play, her delivery occasionally teetered on the edge of becoming grating, although her timing compensated for these minor shortcomings.

It takes an extra ten minutes to get to this venue from the Mile, but I urge you to make the journey to see ‘God of Carnage’. You will be handsomely rewarded for your efforts.

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