In their first show of 2016, the Victoria College Drama Society put on an exhilarating performance of Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award–winning black comedy God of Carnage (translated by Christopher Hampton).
The play took place in Victoria College’s Cat’s Eye Lounge. From the vision of director Ben Murchison, the lounge was transformed into the Novak Loft.
Through a series of conflicts, Benjamin Raleigh knocks out Henry Novak’s incisors with a stick. In an attempt to resolve the conflict peacefully, the Novak parents invite the Raleighs over for conversation at lunch. They start off polite, albeit awkward. As the evening progresses and expectations fall through, the two couples begin to act childish and irresponsible. The façade drops and the alcohol comes out. Rampant swearing and sexism take over the once-polite atmosphere.
As the audience filed into the small, cozy space, the four main characters sat calmly on the furnished set. Henry Novak (Katie Pereira) and Camile Novak (Katie Cohen) were seen arguing, often in the middle of the audience. Lists of the “Novak Family Rules” were left on audience seats. “No roughhousing, or horsing around of any kind,” was written in the middle of the list, preceded by rules like, “Art books shall only be looked at with Mom’s supervision.”
The lighting shifted from a mellow purple to a bright yellow. The still characters began to move. God of Carnage is set in a small apartment, but the actors made great use of the space. Alan (Ryan Falconer) took off to corners of the room for his constant cellphone interruptions with the light almost directly in his face. Annette (Rachel Hart) threw up immediately in front of the crowd beside the coffee table. When Veronica (Samantha Finkelstein) hurls herself on top of Michael (Matthew Fonte), the two trample through the background in a comedic mess, filling the scene with movement.
The hilarity of the play was subtle. The awkward pauses, the implied messages, and—near the end—the blunt swearing were all funny without being overbearing. This left room for the real meaning—the constant back-and-forth between politeness when everything was civil and insults when expectations weren’t met.
God of Carnage is a testament to the act of adulthood. It shows how four fully-grown adults with children of their own can still act out despite all of their supposed knowledge and responsibility. It makes the claim that no matter the smoke and mirrors in front of a person, there is still an innate ability to be savage and crude.
The drunken revelry of the play ended abruptly in the open-ended and rhetorical question, “Oh, what do we know?” The lighting faded back to the despondent purple, which left me both curious and begging for more of the same.