Parents behave badly in ‘God of Carnage’
Performance at Indian Head theater opens Friday night
“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.
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.