MARK COOK shOw Of the weeK
Middle-class snobbery, pretension and hubris have been the stuff of comedy for centuries. No one has done it quite so explosively and hilariously as the award-winning French writer Yasmina Reza in this neat exposé of ‘liberal’ values. The four-hander, premiered here in 2008, was also turned into a 2011 film, Carnage, with Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet.
It all starts trivially, and cordially, enough, escalating after a scrap between two 11-year-old tykes as their supposedly civilised parents meet to air their differences and come to a tolerant, mutually agreed way forward. The chic living room
Theatre Royal, Bath Until Sat, 1hr 20mins
of the host couple is dominated in Peter McKintosh’s design by a ceiling ornament comprising a giant tangle of lethal-looking African spears – a symbol of the relationships here and a sign of the battleground to come as the negotiations turn toxic. Veronica, it emerges, is a slightly smug liberal intellectual who is writing a book about Darfur; husband Michael – given a hint of danger by Nigel Lindsay – sells pots and pans. Uh-oh: incompatibility alert.
The other pair are no better: as wealth manager Annette, (Amanda Abbington, of Sherlock fame) is coiled like a spring with tension, her body language screaming irritation – this even before she vomits copiously over the pale furnishings and valuable books. No wonder she’s scrappy. Alan, her ghastly lawyer husband self-importantly taking endless mobile phone calls, is a complete and utter jerk (shame Ralf Little’s performance isn’t more nuanced).
So it’s no surprise that the quartet descend into child-