‘God of Carnage’, Tron Theatre, Glasgow [theatre review]
Yasmina Reza’s play God Of Carnage is entertaining if a little unpolished at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre.
Centring on two middle-aged couples that meet one evening to discuss a fight that turned violent between their two preteens sons, God of Carnage depicts their slide -one by one- from pleasantries and middle-class pretensions to kicking-and-screaming childlike tantrums.
The play is already popular and even has a movie version directed by Roman Polanski, so director Gareth Nicholls has a task in making it a dynamic and fresh watch for audiences. Luckily he manages it by just setting up the stage and letting his more than capable cast do the hard work.
Richard Conlon gives a wonderfully droll performance as soulless corporate lawyer Alain, and his deadpan delivery got the biggest laughs of the night. He’s does occasionally fluff or run through his lines too quickly, stopping an incredibly good performance from being great. Lorraine McIntosh (from Deacon Blue) gives a performance that slowly builds, which while slow at first, pays off wonderfully in the final act of the play. Colin McGredie is very good as the affably despicable Michael, as is Anita Vettesse as his tightly wound hippy-esque wife Véronique (not anglicising the original names so that the Scottish-accented actors retained the French pronunciations was a lovely, pretentious touch).
Lighting and sound are kept diegetic throughout the production as the action takes place in an immaculate and brightly lit living room, while the stage is surrounded on all three sides by a childrens’ ball pool. What initially seemed like a particularly on-the-nose metaphor turned out to be a really fun and effective staging device, with the actors diving in and splashing around when they got especially bratty to great comedic effect.
It’s pernickety, but rusty sound cues, the occasional fluffed line and a distractingly fake projectile vomiting scene lessens the overall quality of an otherwise great production. Satire works best when it has been expertly structured, and the occasional blunder undoes that hard won sheen. Still, it’s a very fun production of a very funny play.