THE GOD OF CARNAGE
OSO ARTS CENTRE, BARNES
020 8876 9885
RUNNING TIME – 80 MINUTES – NO INTERVAL
23 FEBRUARY 2022
Yasmina Reza’s blistering comedy of bad manners is brought vividly to life in a new production by OnBook Theatre at the OSO Arts Centre in Barnes, London.
Two couples meet up to discuss their sons who have had a fight – one of whom has broken some teeth. A quiet, considered discussion at first skewed by what ‘side’ you are on. Indeed, taking sides is very much a theme of the play as is semantics, and not just what you say, but how you say it. Veronique and Michel whose son, Bruno, is the victim; an ordinary, unremarkable couple in the main, whereas as Alain and Anette are a lawyer and wealth manager – a different league; chalk and cheese. Class is never too far from the surface.
Pop all these factors into the crucible and you have the ingredients for an explosion. And boy, do you get one. Within the time of the play the couples have set up battle lines against each other, argued and fought and then swapped sides to have a swipe at their other’s halves.
Rosie Edwards is simmering with injustice as Veronique; highly-strung, she is and an explosion waiting to happen. This is a superb performance and she draws the eye throughout. Michel has a much more laissez-faire attitude until he finds himself at the centre of accusations and he turns; Luke Mazzamuto unleashes his patent frustrations with life and love incredibly effectively. Emily Outred’s Anette is rather prim and proper to begin with, but gradually descends into a mouthy, bitchy drunk – and performs a masterly bodily function in the process; this is a performance of skill and joy, not least when she wins a particular battle with her husband – one which garnered a frisson of pleasure from the audience. Alain is the least demonstrative character; obsessed with his business and forever on his mobile phone; Malcolm Jeffries imbues him with a sneering, knowing, self-centred quality – none of the characters are particularly likeable, Alain, probably least of all.
Occasionally some throwaway lines are little too muted, but this is a minor quibble in what is an excellent production.
Reza’s play and Christopher Hampton’s translation provide a wonderful indictment of the human adult and how badly they can behave when the moment comes – theirs is far worse than their sons. It is a play where you gasp and laugh in equal measure. Outrageous things are said; extraordinary actions taken – the human being can be a nasty piece of work sometimes. By the end of the play a realisation of what has happened comes to the fore – albeit too late.
The Oso Arts Centre is a wonderfully adaptable performance space, Ian Nicholas’s well-dressed set has the audience on three sides and, in the small auditorium, there is a potent and vital atmosphere. Director, Jason Moore has squeezed every awkward pause, sidelong glance, under and overtone of bile from this play and his production does it proud.
CAST & CREATIVES
ALAN REILLE – MALCOLM JEFFRIES
ANETTE REILLE – EMILY OUTRED
VERONIQUE VALLON – ROSIE EDWARDS
MICHEL VALLON – LUKE MAZZAMUTO
WRITER – YASMINA REZA
TRANSLATOR – CHRISTOPHER HAMPTON
DIRECTOR – JASON MOORE
TECHNICAL DESIGN – JONNY DANCIGER
SET & COSTUME DESIGN – IAN NICHOLAS
PRODUCTION IMAGE – GIACOMO GIANNELLI