Theater & Dance

Review
"God of Carnage"

By: Yasmina Reza
Produced by: City Lights Theater Company
Directed by: Virginia Drake
Featuring: Erik Gandolfi, April Green, Karyn Rondeau, Avondina Wills
Running time: 80 minutes, no intermission
When: September 13-October 14, 2018
Where: City Lights Theater Company, 529 South Second Street, San Jose
Tickets: $23-$44. Visit http://cltc.org/god-of-carnage/ or call 408-295-4200.

Rondeau, Green, Wills
Taylor Sanders / City Lights
April Green as Annette, center, blows her top at Avondina Wills as Michael as Karyn Rondeau as Veronica watches, in "God of Carnage," September 13 through October 14, 2018, at City Lights in San Jose.
'God of Carnage' — and of comedy —
gets a lively production at City Lights
Yasmina Reza script is brilliantly brought to life
September 20, 2018

“God of Carnage” is a hilarious comedy with lots of bite.

The laughs come fast in Yasmina Reza’s brilliant tale of the middle class, but they are mixed with plenty of commentary on the rudeness of modern life, not to mention drunkenness, vomit and heart-breakingly shaky marriages.

Really, it gets a lot done in less than 90 minutes, at least in the excellent production at City Lights in San Jose.

Two sets of oh-so-polite parents meet to discuss an incident at a park where their two sons, both 11, got into a fight, and one knocked out two of the other’s teeth with a stick.

Veronica and Michael paid $40 for 15 tulips as a gesture to their guests, Annette and Alan.

When Annette calls her own son a “thug” and a “savage,” we begin to wonder if maybe some of these people are not candidates for parents of the year.

But the talking goes on. Michael and Alan bond and fist-bump over their separate memories of having been in youth gangs when they were kids. Three of them bond over their dislike of lawyer Alan rudely breaking off to take phone calls on his cell phone.

Before too long, everybody is mad at somebody else at least once each, as alliances erupt, then fizzle away. When the rum comes out, everything steps up.

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Reza’s brilliant script makes vomiting hilarious, and also a comment on all these bourgeoisie. Should Veronica be kind and helpful, or really pissed off that Annette has puked on one of her favorite books? And what about that cell phone? Wouldn’t at least some of them be happy if it were suddenly dunked in an iris vase?

The cast, directed by the excellent Virginia Drake, is outstanding and very well balanced. Everyone gets a star turn, delivering amazing dialogue and rocking the theater.

Avondina Wills is outstanding as Michael, telegraphing audience reactions with his very expressive face and mannerisms.

April Green is amazing as Annette. Her entire face seems to go white with shock as she is about to vomit, and she impressively shows her emotional and physical exhaustion. She also takes the show’s most impressive and dangerous fall.

Karyn Rondeau as Veronica starts out as the ever-polite and thoughtful hostess, but gradually comes unhinged as things get worse and worse, carrying us with her.

Erik Gandolfi is self-absorbed as attorney Alan, and dismissive of the gathering altogether, but stays for the drama, the rum and the cigars (which never get smoked). When his cell phone goes for a swim, his reaction is astounding.

All this takes place on a beautiful set by City Lights’ resident scenic designer, Ron Gasparinetti. The back wall of Michael and Veronica’s home is beautiful sheets of granite, lit around the edges. Very elegant, and tells us much about this couple. Ting-Na Wang did a fun job with properties, piling up books everywhere for the intellectually oriented couple.

Lighting by Mary Baronitis made it all work. Sound design by George Psarras supported the dialogue and brought in all those cell phone sounds.

Email John Orr at johnorr@regardingarts.com

Wills, Gandolfi, Rondeau, Green
Taylor Sanders / City Lights
Avondina Wills as Michael, front left, and Erik Gandolfi as Alan try to save Alan's cellphone as Karyn Rondeau and Veronica, back left, and April Green as Annette exult, in "God of Carnage," September 13 through October 14, 2018, at City Lights in San Jose.
Rondeau, Wills
Taylor Sanders / City Lights
Karyn Rondeau as Veronica, left, and Avondina Wills as Michael invite another couple over to discuss a bit of their children's violence in "God of Carnage," September 13 through October 14, 2018, at City Lights in San Jose.
Gandolfi, Rondeau, Green
Taylor Sanders / City Lights
Erik Gandolfi as Erik suddenly has a sobbing Karyn Rondeau as Veronica on his chest, as April Green as Annette wonders what to do in "God of Carnage," September 13 through October 14, 2018, at City Lights in San Jose.


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