The God Of Carnage @ The Tap

Jacki Nixon as Veronica and Yannick Lawry as Alan in the current revival of Yasmine Reza's THE GOD OF CARNAGE
Jacki Mison  as Veronica and Yannick Lawry as Alan in  Yasmina Reza’s THE GOD OF CARNAGE

I am a big fan of French playwright Yasmina Reza’s work. Reza is such a deft, subtle playwright. Out of the simplest of situations she creates poetic, poignant theatre.

In  her most well known play ART (1994) a professional man in his thirties has bought a hugely expensive painting, an abstract work of art, that he hangs oin the main wall in his living room. He invites his two best friends, also professional men, over for a catch up and to get their opinion of this latest acquisition. His two friends are aghast. They can’t believe their best mate has spent so much money in what they see as a vacuous, indulgent artwork. And so begins a play that has ripples of meaning going everywhere. The play ends up being very little about art and a lot about friendships and their very fragile nature.

Twisted Tree Theatre is currently presenting a production of her 2006 play THE GOD OF CARNAGE. Some of you may know it from the films 2011 film adaptation directed by Roman Polanski, and starring Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster.

Again, the play stems from a simple situation. Married couple Michael and Veronica Fallon invite couple Annette and Allan Riley over for a meeting. Their kids go to the same school and have recently been involved in an nasty altercation. The Riley’s boy Ferdinand has viciously attacked the Fallon’s son Bruno with a stick, which has resulted in Bruno losing two of his front teeth.

Apparently the issue was that Bruno would not allow Ferdinand to join his gang. The two couples meet to try and work out what’s the best way forward. They are thinking that perhaps the best thing to do is to arrange a meeting between the two boys which can be overseen by them….

Out of a schoolyard assault Reza weaves a play with much broader significance. The focus soon turns from their children’s woes to the very troubled state of their own egos and, more to the point, marriages.

The clashes that take place between the four characters is  a little reminiscent of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.   The attacks become more and more personal and hurtful. The God of Carnage is very much present.

Steven Hopley’s production serves Reza’s incisive satire of middle class mores well.  The piece  is ideally suited to the very intimate downstairs space at the Tap, which can best be described as a living room theatre.

The actors inhabit their well contrasted characters well: Jacki Mison plays the very much ‘in her head’, highly strung feminist and  writer, Veronica Fallon. Chris Miller is  her much more physical, man’s man husband, Michael.

Yannick Lawry plays the very precious and ‘important’ lawyer Alan Riley, whose life is all about his career and very little about his wife and family life. His mobile phone is always ringing with important work phone calls until his wife decides to take his mobile away from him and deal with it in her own way, in one of the play’s many darkly comic moments.

Hailey McQueen is excellent as his trophy wife, whose job is wealth management. Her husband’s wealth…

This production is well worth a visit. Searing  is the best way to describe this particular theatrical experience.

Twisted Tree Theatre’s production of THE GOD OF CARNAGE plays downstairs at the Tap until the 7th December. The show will play this Wednesday to Saturday at 8pm with the final performance on Sunday at 5pm.