This past weekend The Barn Theatre in Montville premiered the fourth production of its 85th Anniversary Season "God of Carnage," This is an excellent, impressive staging of this Tony Award®-winning comedy, written by Yasmina Reza (translation by Christopher Hampton). Directing is Jeff Knapp (Randolph) who is best known as one of the most in-demand sound designers in the Greater New York area. Knapp earns four stars with this production. He has beautifully guided this one act (90 minute) gem of a comedy...of the dark variety.
The plot centers on two very different couples who over the course of the play spar verbally and physically inflicting considerable damage as the truths of their lives are laid bare. The power of this play that starts with a polite meeting of the two sets of parents (their boys have had a playground fight with one boy knocking out the other boys’ two front teeth with a stick) progresses to a crescendo reminiscent of Ravel's musical masterpiece "Bolero." The "carnage" in the title of this brilliantly written play refers to the mental and physical mess they create.
The power of this play is also evident in that this is the third production of Reza's "God of Carnage" we have reviewed this past year. The George Street Playhouse's professional staging we summed up in one word "brilliant." Just two weeks ago we reviewed the Summit Playhouse's equally outstanding version with Michael King. Now this past Saturday (March 16, 2013) we were fully engaged in this marvelous production.
Surprisingly, there was an interesting, somewhat subtle, difference between the two community theater productions. In the Summit Playhouse's version the two men, possibly because they had worked together before with the same director, seemed to have the dominant roles, whereas Jeff Knapp's production tends to favor the two women. Corinne DiGiacinto (Ringwood) as Annette Raleigh, who is in "wealth management" and Lauri MacMillan (Dover) as Veronica Novak, the highly emotional mother of the injured boy, both have star turns. MacMillan particularly excels in pillow tossing and verbal darts, DiGiacinto beautifully handles the liquid moments.
The two men, both fine, are Tom Morrissey (Lincoln Park) as Alan Raleigh, the slick corporate lawyer who cannot function without his cell phone, and Jonathan Rudolph (Parsippany) as Michael Novak. the rough around-the-edges father of the injured boy and owner of a household supply business. James Gandolfini (a/k/a Tony Soprano) created the Novak role on Broadway two years ago.
Director Knapp's all-volunteer production staff includes stage manager Lauren M. Grof-Tisza, set design/décor Jonathan Wentz (very attractive set), lighting design Nicholas Marmo, sound design Jeff Knapp, light/sound operation Ashley Greiner, producer/properties/costume design Mindy Knapp, special effects Jay Knapp and hair/make-up Jessica Phelan.
As stated earlier, this is a Four Star production... clearly equal to much of the professional production found Off-Broadway, and it is a community theater! This reminds us again of the enormous amount of theater talent we have in the state. You have until April 7th to see this truly fine production.
Reviewed by Rick Busciglio March 16, 2013
Performances started on March 15, 2013 and run through April 7. Remaining evening performances are at 8 p.m. on March 23, 29, 30 and April 5 and 6; matinee performances will be at 2 p.m. on March 24 and April 7 (please note: there is NO performance on Sunday March 31). Tickets are $18 ($16 for seniors and students at matinees only). Reservations can be made by calling the Barn Theatre box office at (973) 334-9320 or by email at email@example.com.
"God of Carnage"contains language and adult themes which may not be suitable for all audiences.The very comfortable theater is located on Skyline Drive in Montville just off U.S. 287 North (Exit 43). The Barn has its own large parking lot. For more information, visit their website; www.barntheatre.org.