God of Carnage – Review by Tom Nissley

On the way to establishing an intimate black box theatre at the Greenwich Parks building on Arch Street, a brand new company is organizing as the Greenwich Theatre Company. They chose Yasmina Reza’s wonderful more-than-a-sitcom “God of Carnage” as an opening number, and it’s a wild success.

Reza’s play is about two couples who live somewhat close to each other in a section of Manhattan, close enough to Cobble Park so that each of them takes their children there for recreation. Well one young boy, feeling insulted and shut out by another young boy, picked up a stick and hit him hard enough to knock two teeth out of sync. Now their parents are having a genteel sit down to talk about what to do next.

Except it’s not all that genteel. Michael Novak (Mike Boland) and his wife Veronica (Stephanie Hazard) have arranged the coffee table and bought some tulips from the nearby Korean Market to look casually upscale. Alan Raleigh (Jason Peck) and his wife Annette (Wynter Kullman) have come over at Veronica’s invitation so that between them they can assess what actually happened and whose insurance will pay for the damages to her son’s mouth.

The Raleighs don’t in any way dispute that their son Bernard picked up a stick and, in a rage, hit young Novak. But the longer the four parents talk about it, often interrupted by the buzzing of Alan’s cell phone and his attempts to manage his law office from afar, geniality goes out the window and slowly turns into emotional warfare.

Reza is delightful in providing lines that can be turned into weapons with the right delivery, and the delivery from these skilled actors rose to the level of perfection under the direction of Rob Kennedy. At different moments husbands unite against wives; the wives return the compliment; Annette becomes fragile in her tummy; Alan seems to have a total breakdown. Etc. Everyone’s self-image is AT RISK, and the audience is looking at these well-dressed (!) New York sophisticates as if they are being stripped of their projected personae one level at a time until nothing solid remains of their marriages or their selves.

I think it’s safe to say that if you go to one of the last four performances [Call 203-629-5744 for info and tickets or go to www.GreenwichTheatreCompany.org] you’ll be fully involved and entertained by the production. Hat’s off and good vibes to what may become Greenwich Theatre Company in full.

Tom Nissley for the Ridgelea Reports on Theatre. September 9, 2019