Perhaps “Carnage,” Yasmina Reza's play on the thin veneer that separates adult behavior from childish tendencies, comes off funnier and a better poke at pseudo-sophistication and morality in its original French version. Or, its attempt to be a funny take-down on parenting and stereotyped female behavior appeals to Tony judges.
The play centers on how two couples start in a reasonable manner to discuss a confrontation their sons had that led to one of them being injured. The couples’ adult-like discussion soon degenerates into childish tantrums and playground-type behavior of “am not” and “are so” accusations.
Alan (Martin Hughes) and Annette (Ellen Cribbs) are the parents of a boy who knocked out two teeth from the son of Veronica (Susan Steinmeyer) and Michael (Michael Stock).
Strangely enough, Reza doesn’t have Alan or Annette defend their son’s action until late in the play. Annette finally does so after Alan spends the whole meeting talking on his cell phone. The bit that gets the most laughs comes when Annette grabs the phone, an adult "toy," and “kills” it in a pot of tulips.
Audiences across the country would relate to the frustration of living with someone who is always on the cell phone. Unfortunately, the action comes near the end of the play. In a story built around superficial attitudes, it is among the few, really believable reactions.
Steinmeyer, Stock, Hughes and Cribbs do the best they can to engender laughs given Reza’s script translated by Christopher Hampton. The play is also ably directed by Wayne Mell.
No question, Reza’s point that adults do have temper tantrums and act like children when goaded is valid. The question is whether audiences find her version to be funny. See what you think. With run-time about 75 minutes and no intermission, “God of Carnage,” can be a short evening’s or afternoon’s entertainment.
Details: “God of Carnage” runs now through March 10. Tickets are $37.50. For more information or tickets call 847-735-8554 and visit Citadel Theatre.
Citadel Theatre is at the Lake Forest School District’s West campus, 300 S. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, IL 60045.