Nick Le Mesurier reviews God Of Carnage, directed by Sue Moore at the Loft Theatre, Leamington
The Loft’s new production of Yasmina Reza’s savage, funny, touching domestic comedy, God of Carnage is hilariously funny. But beware: any faith you might have in the veneer of civilisation will be seriously tested by the end.
Two couples meet to discuss a quarrel between their children. One child has bashed the other in a playground fight. It’s a minor domestic incident, the parents must meet to decide in a peaceful, responsible manner which child, and therefore which parents, are to blame. Of course, each couple defends their own, but soon the gloves are off as each tears into the others’ faults without mercy.
The production is pitch perfect, and some of the best of The Loft’s actors are onstage in what is essentially an extended sit-com. Dave Crossfield and Julie-Ann Randall are Alain and Annette Reille, he a lawyer constantly distracted during the meeting by phone calls about a client’s dodgy drug scam; she is in ‘wealth management’, which is a nice euphemism for housewife. Mark Crossley and Ruth Herd are Michel and Veronique Vallon: he sells domestic hardware, she is a pretentious academic who writes about art and African politics from afar. They have nothing in common, either as couples or individuals, save the sense of existential angst that both drives them apart and keeps them together.
God of Carnage is a Dionysian orgy of attitudes. It has some wonderful scenes, such as a magnificent fight with flowers, and a funny / sad moment where Annette throws up onstage. It’s grotesque, tragic, and deeply moving. This is serious stuff, and were their words bullets people would get killed.
* God of Carnage runs until Saturday February 27. Call 01926 800360 or visit loft-theatre.co.uk to book.