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Theatre Review: God of Carnage

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, September 29, 2011

This dark comedy starts politely enough, as the two couples gather in a well-appointed big city apartment. One boy has whacked another in the face with a stick, the boy who got hit lost two teeth. The parents are trying to settle the matter like fair-minded adults.

"What we want is for the boys to make up so that this sort of thing never happens again."

"Let's arrange a meeting!"

"Yes, that's the answer."

"Should we be there?"

"No we don't need to coach them. Just put them in a room, let them settle it man to man." (Audience laughs)

But such polite statements are only a veneer, and very soon, the degree to which these people despise each other becomes abundantly clear.

"What a nightmare. Horrible."

"I'll tell you what, he had better not keep pushing me."

"She's dreadful as well."

"She's not as bad."

"They're both dreadful. Why do you keep siding with them?"

"What are you talking about?"

And this is only the beginning. Mix in a few stiff drinks, along with some really annoying cell phone interruptions, and not only does it become clear that it's impossible for these two couples to agree on anything - they also seem destined for divorce. The mixture of booze and bad behavior is reminiscent of Edward Albee's classic play "Who's Afraid of Viriginia Wolfe," but instead of skewering academic life, "God of Carnage" is a demolition derby that pits a high-strung social activist against a big wheel lawyer who will excuse almost any behavior on his sons part. The results are funny because these people are sooo ridiculous. But at the same time, some of the things they say resemble words you've probably spoken yourself, or at least thought about saying. It all makes for a concise four-actor show that's as sharp as a razor -- well cast by director Buck Busfield, and well performed by his actors. This is anything but mindless comedy -- in fact, it's so pointed in its message and precisely aimed that it almost hurts to watch. It's an accomplished show based on a very strong script, which makes for an experience you will remember vividly.

"God of Carnage" continues at Sacramento's B Street Theatre through November 2nd.  

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