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“God of Carnage” Another Excellent B Street Theatre Production of a Contemporary Hit

All civility gone in “God of Carnage”

Folks can be so civil and polite when they first meet to discuss what could be a thorny issue.

“God of Carnage,” the current mainstage production at B Street Theatre through Nov. 6, follows the interactions between two couples and between the husbands and wives, escalating and disintegrating. The result is shocking and hysterically funny.

Michael and Veronica Novak invite Alan and Annette Raleigh to their ever-so-tasteful home to discuss an incident in a neighborhood park. Veronica claims the Raleighs’ 11-year-old son “armed” himself with a stick and struck the Novak’s son, breaking two teeth. “Armed” is just the first contention. As with so many issues like this, there is much more going on than what is first presented.

The play was written by Yasmina Reza, a French actress, playwright, novelist and screenwriter, who is also know for her play “Art.” With “God of Carnage,” she has written sharply defined characters who mask their true feelings and behaviors twith gentility and civility only until they are pressed.

Christopher Hampton, a British playwright, screenwriter, film director and translator, first translated the play into British English for a highly critical and successful run in London. Hampton and Reza collaborated to adapt the play for American audiences, realizing that there are cultural differences in each country. Now set in gentrified Brooklyn with characters that are easily recognizable to any American, it has again earned critical and popular success, winning the 2009 Tony Award for best play.

B Street enlisted three of its best known and most popular actors: Kurt Johnson as Alan Raleigh, Elisabeth Nunziato as Annette Raleigh, and David Pierini as Michael Novak. They are joined by New York City-based actor Dana Brooke as Veronica Novak. Brooke was last seen at B Street opposite Kurt Johnson as Kellin Delahanty, the self absorbed hitchhiker in “Northport Cottage: A Comedy for the Holidays.”

Kurt Johnson as Alan Raleigh, David Pierini as Michael Novak, Elisabeth Nunziato as Annette Raleigh

All four actors work well together and also with director Buck Busfield. This is the kind of comedy that Busfield and his actors love to do and are so good at. They each do such a good job with their character that it is impossible to single out any one of the performers.  This is ensemble acting at its best.  

The set design by Steven Schmidt and costumes by Paulette Sand-Gilbert are not only beautiful to look at, but they give the audience a strong sense of who these characters really are.

Set design by Steven Schmidt, Costumes by Paulette Sand-Gilbert

It is not surprising that “God of Carnage” has been so popular with both critics and audiences, no matter the language, the idioms or the setting. It has sharply written dialogue and clearly defined characters, who are not always very nice but are often very funny and easily recognizable to contemporary audiences. Busfield and his actors do the usual B Street Theatre high-quality job bringing them to life.

God of Carnage” B Street Theatre Mainstage Through November 6, 2011
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