Par­ents be­have badly in ‘God of Car­nage’

Per­for­mance at In­dian Head the­ater opens Fri­day night

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JamieACIndyNews

“Moral­ity de­crees that we con­trol our im­pulses, but some­times it’s bet­ter not to con­trol them.”

That line, ut­tered by one of the char­ac­ters in the play “God of Car­nage,” aptly sum­ma­rizes the 80-minute com­edy open­ing to­day at the Black Box The­atre in In­dian Head. The play fo­cuses on two cou­ples who grad­u­ally lose all sense of ci­vil­ity and deco­rum in a dis­cus- sion of a play­ground fight be­tween their chil­dren, and be­gin be­hav­ing child­ishly them­selves.

“There’s something ca- thar­tic in watch­ing these char­ac­ters vent their frus- tra­tions,” said Heather Wether­ald, who plays Veron­ica. “There are places in this play where you could re­ally see your­self act­ing out, but you don’t and that’s the magic of it. It’s al­most like go­ing to the zoo, you’re go­ing to be watch­ing us act like an­i­mals.”

“God of Car­nage” is a Port To­bacco Play­ers pro­duc­tion, open­ing Nov. 18 at the Black Box The­atre in In­dian Head. It is an En- glish adap­tion of the 2006 French play “Le Dieu du Car­nage” by Yas­mina Reza and was per­formed on Broad­way from Feb. 28, 2009 to Feb. 28, 2010. The show is the win­ner of a Tony Award.

It was also adapted for film un­der the name “Car- nage,” di­rected by Ro­man Polan­ski, in 2011.

Prior to the start of the play, one 11-year-old boy hits an­other with a stick, knock­ing out two teeth. The par­ents of both boys sit down in an ef­fort to re­solve the sit­u­a­tion, but class and cul­tural is­sues come to the fore, the veil of ci­vil­ity is rent asun­der, and when al­co­hol is added to the mix, all pre­tense at po­lite­ness is dropped and the par­ents de­gener- ate into ridicu­lous ar­gu­ments and de­struc­tion.

“It’s not re­ally about what hap­pened with [the boys] Henry and Ben­jamin … It’s so­cial com­men­tary, it’s satire, hope­fully it’s satire,” said Les­lie Kobylin­ski, who plays An­nette. “It’s just a blast to be able to play out all of the bad be­hav­ior.”

This is the sec­ond Port To­bacco Play­ers per­for- mance the the­ater has hosted. Manager Evie Hunger­ford said she is hope­ful the newly-ren­o­vated space can host a va- ri­ety of artis­tic and com- mu­nity en­deav­ors.

“It’s an en­trepreneurial ef­fort to bring cul­ture to a com­mu­nity that sorely needs it,” Hunger­ford said.

The in­ti­mate the­ater set- ting is ideal for a play that takes place en­tirely in one cou­ple’s liv­ing room, said Larry Daniele, the play’s pro­ducer, who also plays Alan.

“This is a grand ex­per­i­ment on be­half of the Port To­bacco Play­ers,” Daniele said. “It’s an op­por­tu­nity that we have to do in­ti­mate the­ater, to do chal­leng­ing the­ater, with very, very tal­ented peo­ple, and it’s not nec­es­sar­ily something they’re do­ing on the main stage in Port To­bacco. There’s look­ing for al­ter­nate ven- ues to do chal­leng­ing the­ater.”

Brian Don­a­hoe, who plays Michael, said there are par­al­lels be­tween the play and the re­cent po­lar- ized po­lit­i­cal sea­son.

“We’re all pleas­ant to each other, when we’re face-to-face, and these emo­tions that peo­ple have un­der the sur­face, they some­times do sur- face,” Don­a­hoe said.

“Some­times in very pre­his­toric ways,” added Kobylin­ski.

The 80-minute play is a sin­gle scene, with no in- ter­mis­sion, which can be a chal­lenge to the actors, Daniele said.

“This is eas­ily the most dif­fi­cult play I’ve ever been in­volved in,” Daniele said.

“It’s not a long play, but I find it takes a toll,” added Dono­hue. “There are no breaks, and there’s so much emo­tional in­ten­sity, some of the phys­i­cal stuff is re­ally sort of a relief, for me, be­cause I feel like [Michael’s] keep­ing ev- ery­thing penned up, he doesn’t want to be there, so it’s a relief to let go as Michael.”

Wether­ald said it can be a chal­lenge to keep track of where her char­ac­ter is emo­tion­ally in the play.

“[Veron­ica] has all of these emo­tions that she’s go­ing through,” Wether- ald said. “For in­stance, the ar­gu­ment with [hus- band Michael] is very muted in the be­gin­ning, and then, at the end, well, it’s not as muted as it used to be, and she’s burst­ing out cry­ing and hav­ing to scold some­one. It is hard play­ing that per­sonal ten- nis match with your­self, find­ing where you’re sup­posed to be happy, where you’re sup­posed to be an­gry, where you’re sup­posed to be cry­ing or burst­ing out into a tan- trum.”

Kobylin­ski said she found ways to con­nect with An­nette.

“I find the play­wright’s in­tent with all of these char­ac­ters, but par­tic­u­lar- ly with An­nette, mak­ing fun of the so­cial mores of peo­ple who say cer- tain things, but re­ally are something else,” Koby- lin­ski said. “They try to be po­lit­i­cally cor­rect, and be­ing a mother and hav- ing lived in that world of par­ent­ing and he­li­copter par­ent­ing, this re­ally res­onated for me, and I think the play­wright got it spo­ton. There are so many peo­ple in my own life, and my­self, that I rec­og­nize at var­i­ous mo­ments, with An­nette.”

Kobylin­ski said the play is not mind­less, but it is en­ter­tain­ing.

“It will pro­voke con­ver­sa­tion in in­ter­est­ing ways. If you want to have something to talk about, you want to have something to get en­er­gized about, this is the play to see,” Kobylin­ski said. “You’re right in the liv­ing room with the actors, how often do you get to do that?”

“God of Car­nage” opens Nov. 18 at the Black Box The­atre, 4185 In­dian Head High­way in In­dian Head, and con­tin­ues Nov. 19, Dec. 2-3 and Dec. 9-10 at 8 p.m. Tick­ets are $15 for adults and $12 for se­niors, stu­dents and the mil­i­tary. The play con­tains adult con­tent and pro­fan­ity.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

Heather Wether­ald as Veron­ica, Brian Dono­hue as Michael, Les­lie Kobylin­ski as An­nette and Larry Daniele as Alan in the Port To­bacco Play­ers’ pro­duc­tion of “God of Car­nage”, which opens Nov. 18 at the Black Box The­atre in In­dian Head.

Veron­ica, played by Heather Wether­ald, claims the bot­tle of rum for her­self in the Port To­bacco Play­ers’ per­for­mance of “God of Car­nage.”

Michael, played by Brian Dono­hue, sits next to Alan, played by Larry Daniele, as he at­tempts to fix Alan’s cell phone with a hair dryer in the Port To­bacco Play­ers’ pro­duc­tion of “God of Car­nage,” which opens Nov. 18 at the Black Box The­atre in In­dian Head.

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