‘God of Carnage’ was chaotic.
Life has many moments – some joyous, some brutal, and others downright uncomfortable. In Ad Astra’s latest production, ‘God of Carnage’, the theatre group have ambitiously ventured into a new area to deliver a powerful play full of emotion. The story centres around two couples amid a restorative and disturbing meeting. Trying to settle a violent altercation between both their children, the stresses of the situation causes the somewhat civil matter to turn childish in a morbid fashion.
Originally written in Yasmina Reza’s native French, ‘God of Carnage’ was translated for the stage by Christopher Hampton, and first produced in London in 2008. It then appeared on Broadway in 2009, which earnt the play critical acclaim and both Laurence Olivier and Tony awards. Along with being the third longest-running theatrical Broadway show in the 2010s, with only ‘The 39 Steps’ and ‘August: Osage County’ in front, ‘God of Carnage’ has become a modern black comedy classic, and Ad Astra has shown audiences why.
The power of this play is in its dialogue. Littered with a dry wit that leaves the audiences laughing, but with an anxious undertone. One can’t help but feel on edge throughout the show. For directors, Jaqueline Kerr and Pierce Gordan, the sentiments of the script were perfectly executed. Blocking choices worked perfectly for all actors, encouraging laughter from not only the dialogue but the actors’ movement as well. For example, two characters crossing their legs one after the other in defiance was a nice touch.
The set, also designed by Kerr, was dynamic and included a lounge room with loud white walls and lavish African artefacts and decorations. In fact, the styling made the room feel like it could be found in any neighbourhood in Brisbane. Lighting and sound design by B’elanna Hill was very minimalistic with basic white washing and sound effects. It’s subtle role within the drama-fused production, however, was effective.
The acting from all four cast members was well layered. Tom Coyle’s hyper manic performance took the audience on a joyride through a midlife crisis. While Helen Ekundayo’s domineering socialite captivated the audience who voyeuristically watched her world crumble around her. Sandra Harman’s stress-ridden character fitted perfectly within the chaos, especially as her performance demanded the other roles and the audience to give her much-wanted attention. Finally, Deidre Grace’s brash workaholic was wildly effective, causing the audiences to laugh restlessly, as they didn’t know what she was going to do next.
As a whole, each actor gave a powerhouse performance that never dulled within the rising tensions of the show. The nervous laughter kept building and building while the actors explored the many facets of stress and disappointment. This was clearly interpreted by an adoring audience who cheered loudly at the curtain call.
‘God of Carnage’ may be a decade old, but the context still speaks strongly to this day. Ad Astra should be applauded for their fine-tuned and must-see production. When you see each character argue strongly about their differences, it’s not hard to draw similarities in how our society acts towards each other. Though ‘God of Carnage’ won’t give us a way to co-exist, it does give us a chance to laugh at ourselves… even if it’s mostly to keep us from crying.
‘God of Carnage’ plays until Saturday, 12 September at Ad Astra in the Fortitude Valley. Tickets can be purchased at Ad Astra’s Website.