CIVILITY IS PITTED AGAINST SAVAGERY IN “GOD OF CARNAGE”


BONNIE GOLDBERG

A confrontation between two eleven year old boys in a local park leads to one boy, Benjamin, picking up a stick and hitting the face of the other, Henry, causing the lose of two teeth. Who was the instigator? How guilty was the victim? Where to lay the blame?  How to resolve the sensitive issue? Henry's parents want answers and, to that end, they invite Benjamin's folks over to discuss the problem and find a satisfactory resolution.

The goal is to find the art of co-existence and to be sure the incident is never repeated, that the boys can resolve their differences and achieve peace. It is easier said than done. For a front row seat for the interrogation and investigation, attend Yasmina Reza’s “God of Carnage,” translated by Christopher Hampton, at Music Theater of Connecticut weekends until Sunday, February 16. The drama is a clear departure from MTC's usual musical fare and the ensemble cast gives it a verbal battle royal.

Initially Veronica (Cynthia Hannah) and Michael (Jim Schilling) are gracious hosts, offering fruit tart and coffee to their new acquaintances, Annette (Marty Bongfeldt) and Alan (John Flaherty). No one is casting blame and no one is accepting responsibility for the incident, after all they want to be civilized and resolve it amicably. Michael, with a whole sale house goods business, is soon pitted against Alan the attorney who is so preoccupied on his cell phone with legal matters of a financial and medical nature that he cannot spare the time to focus on his son. On the high moral ground is Veronica who is writing a book on the tragedy of Darfur and she is just as passionate about that cause as she is about her son Henry being vindicated in the incident closer to home. Annette becomes increasingly disturbed by the discussion, until she literally explodes with her distress.

As the discussion and the evening progress, the parents stoop to childish roles, even temper tantrums, turning the talk into chaos. Reasonableness is quickly discarded as the four parents collide, often switching allegiances, as husband disparages wife, and women side together against the males, and it almost comes to physical blows. Prepare to see cell phones continually vibrate, tulips get crushed, hamsters escape, rare books be ruined, Cuban cigars be offered, rare bottles of rum get consumed as the adults discover how like their children they really are. Mark Torres directs this talented cast through this comically tragic clash of civilization meets chaos.

For tickets ($25-45, with $5 off for seniors and students), call MTC, 246 Post Road East (lower level) Westport at 203-454-3883 or online at www.musictheatreofct.com. ;Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and  8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Look forward to MTC's new space in September at 509 Westport Avenue, Route 1, in Norwalk by viewing www.musictheatreofct.com/newspace and be dazzled. Pledges of financial support are most welcome.

Get a scorecard and pick a side to see who is responsible, who is the victim, who the executioner, who the child and who the adult.

 

 

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