God Of Carnage

Date 12th February 2022
Society The Green Room Theatre, Wilmslow
Venue Wilmslow Green Room Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Ian Cole
Written By Yazmine Reza

Report

Author: Stephanie Niland (District 1 Drama Rep)

Credit is due to the actors in God of Carnage at Wilmslow Green Room. The play is set in one scene with minimal off-stage time for any of them. It runs like an unwieldy, heavy locomotive with the strained and awkward start of polite discussions and diplomatic, passive aggressive sentiments regarding the characters’ children, to a full-on runaway train of gloves off, open can of worms type arguments.

The intimacy of the theatre at Wilmslow meant that we felt part of the furniture, it made us squirm and react as if in the scene – tutting and gasping as if we had been offended ourselves. The script and execution also forced you to blurt out loud at some points, which is commendable.

The clever thing about Reza’s script is that the characters are so believable. You feel as if you know or have come across each one: at the school gates, at work or socially. You get the measure of them straight away, but they’re not stereotypes, they’re complex and layered products of the times – but instantly recognizable within the social comment of the play. Straining against the accepted behaviour of social norms is the visceral truth within them.

Abby Cross’ delivery as Veronique was very clever. Unbelievably supercilious with the over accentuated vowels that just rub you up the wrong way for no real reason, the veiled bragging sounds apologetic and you’re left wondering why you’re annoyed. An admirable performance. When the civility slipped and she let rip, it was a joy but the character foundations set at the start were the most impressive.

Michel, who enjoys his work more than being with his family, portrayed by Ian Fensome, was brilliant. The contrast in delivery between him and his wife highlighted what each believed to be the appropriate way the situation should have been handled. Michel was played with a mask of courtesy but behind the façade was an unrefined man who was only there because his wife wanted him to be but then he got suitably embroiled in the whole affair. Well played.

Alain, the most aloof and hostile character was played well by Ewan Henderson. The cutting remarks enacted with a real sting. The telephone conversations were suitably awkward but as there were several, perhaps more could have been eked out of the direction of these to flesh out this character.

The rise of Annette, played by Joan Taylor-Jones, is wonderful. The most seemingly down to earth, aware of self and place character to begin with, we saw her transform. Fueled by the events of the meeting, she allowed years of repressed feelings to come bubbling to the surface. The most relatable character played splendidly throughout. It is one of those pieces where you watch the silent characters as much as the speaking ones and the inner struggle Annette had growing within was tangible.

It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall in rehearsals for this piece, was it a collaborative affair or a line learning exercise. Whichever, the actors clearly understood the characters, the commentary, the atmosphere, and the action, which although cringeworthy and awkward to watch at times (for the right reasons) never quite ventures out of the realms of plausibility. The veneer of suburban middle-classdom is very fragile and these characters showed it and its cracking very well.

Direction-wise, it all worked well. It is one scene and set in the round. It came across well. However, some aspects could have been implemented better – positioning and blocking in the round is a specific skill and perhaps needs a little more thought – it felt as if the characters, when not seated, moved to the same spot and remained there for too long at points and perhaps the chairs could have been placed in a diamond or off set so only one character is facing away from each section of the audience at any one time.  But having said that, this well- observed and cleverly written play was marvelously acted and thoroughly enjoyed by the audience, so hats off to Ian Cole at the helm.