Wednesday, 11 March 2009

God of Carnage - Richmond Theatre

God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza
Translator:Christopher Hampton
Director: Matthew Warchus
Reviewer: John Roberts

Yasmona Reza's latest play shows that she is one of the most acute observational writers of the 21st century. God of Carnage gained rave reviews when it found a home for a limited run in Shaftsbury Avenue last year, and I for one am glad that the producers saw sense in making sure this production toured.

Set in an affluent area of France, two couples are brought together after Bruno attacks eleven year old Ferdinand with a stick, knocking out two of his teeth and exposing (sorry semi exposing) a nerve. Ferdinands parents Michel (Roger Allum) and Veronique (Lia Williams) invite Brunos parents Alain (Richard E Grant) and Annette (Serina Evans) over to discuss the incident.

What starts off as a very civilised (if not a little tense) meeting between the two affected parties parents, soon turns very quickly into a comic and frankly scary look into the facade of being a parent, a partner and a human being. Reza's writing is sharp and funny and also exposes the weakness's of these 'strong' modern day parents and all they will do to try and beat the other couple in a grotesque game of one-upmanship.

Matthew Warchus directs this production with his usual mix of well timed comedy and a pace that really does zoom along, add along some interesting touches with the lighting designed by Gary Yershon and a set (by Mark Thomspson) that is just as bold and hideously in your face as the characters that inhabit it, you are left with a show where 90 minutes seems to fly by so quickly yet also makes your feel incredibly uneasy about the whole sorry affair.

It is without a doubt that Grant produces a superb performance, but this is a role where unfortunately type casting really has come into force, for there was nothing new to his performance that we haven't seen in anything else he has done in the last few years, but saying that he really does hold a gravitas on the stage and one cant help being drawn to his mannerisms and expressions.

Allum also gives us a strong performance with excellent comic timing, his physical presence just dominates the space and really makes you believe this is his domain.

Unfortunately I feel although the writing is strong, it just doesn't give the female cast the same scope in producing similarly strong characters unlike the male protagonists of the piece and at time felt that they appeared rather two dimensional and weak in comparison, however saying that, Williams and Evans give perfectly crafted performances.

This is a fantastic production and one which deserves another visit to the West End, and reap the rewards that it rightly deserves.

God of Carnage runs at the Richmond Theatre until Saturday 14th March 2009

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