God of Carnage is a play by French playwright and novelist Yasmina Reza, and it was first published in 2008.
Winner of the 2009 Tony Award for Best Play, it relates an evening in the lives of two couples who meet to discuss a playground incident. Alan and Annette’s son hit Michael and Veronica’s son in the face with a stick, knocking out a couple of his teeth in the process. The four of them agree to discuss the incident civilly, but, as the night wears on, tensions escalate and relationships are tested. The couples initially spar against each other, but the men gang up on the women and the spouses switch sides as the fighting continues.
Freema Agyeman shines as Veronica, who works as a writer and part-time in an art and history library. Her characterisation of that classic over-achieving primary school mother is great.
Martin Hutson complements her perfectly as her uncouth husband who is much less interested in keeping up appearances or any form of political correctness.
Ariyon Bakare is the busy and arrogant lawyer who shows little interest in anything other than his mobile phone. Dinita Gohil plays the unhappy, people-pleasing wife who finally has enough and turns the tables on her husband once and for all.
The chemistry between the actors is magnetic, they do a great job blending the lines between humour and utter despair, under the direction of Nicholai La Barre.
The beautiful smart chic, modern, living room set by Lily Arnold is the deceptively urbane setting for these parents’ little (but not so little) talk. The revolve moves so slowly, almost imperceptibly to the eyes, as the audience’s perspectives of the characters and the dynamics between the couples change.
God of Carnage is a satirical comedy about warring middle-class parents desperate to uphold the veneer of civility, but incapable of masking the anger, recklessness and ultimately the decline and degradation. The book is 15 years old, but the context still speaks strongly to this day.
The delivery of the excellent actors combined with a sharp script make for an entertaining evening.
It runs until 30 September. Tickets: here.
Photos: The Other Richard