God of Carnage at the Masque

Ceridwen Morris (Veronica); Brian Notcutt (Michael); Kirsty Cunnington (Annette) and Patrick Jordi (Alan) in God of Carnage.

When two 11-year-old boys get into a fight, during which Henry loses two teeth, his irate parents, Michael and Veronica, invite Benjamin’s parents to their home to discuss the matter.

They are determined to be civilised and reasonable – even hospitable (Veronica buys flowers and bakes a cake). Alan is clearly irritated and has been dragged to this meeting by his wife, Annette. But they too are determined to be sensible and rational.

All parents can relate to this situation. Some of us have faced something like this; the rest dread the possibility. Here we have an opportunity to experience this type of confrontation vicariously – and have a good laugh.

From the start there is an unwelcome intruder in the shape of Alan’s cellphone, which interrupts the easy flow of conversation frequently and clearly annoys his wife. The two couples differ in almost every way: uptight Alan and Annette enjoy – if that is the word – the more materialistic lifestyle (he is a lawyer; she is in wealth management).

By contrast, Michael is a wholesaler in kitchen equipment and Veronica is devoted to left-wing causes (she has written a book on Darfur). Still they try to find common ground: Michael, in particular, makes valiant attempts, revealing boyhood exploits which result in a degree of male bonding with Alan but irritate both Veronica and Annette. Veronica serves coffee and clafouti and her display of art books on the coffee table tempts Annette to reveal a shared enthusiasm. But the tension mounts and is clearly too much for Annette. She….but I won’t reveal too much!

When coffee is replaced by rum things really get out of hand; serious tensions between husbands and wives come to the fore, and all this is exacerbated by untimely telephone calls from Michael’s mother.

Yasmina Reza, whose play Art so wittily exposed the pretentiousness and snobbery of the avant-garde art world, is again in top form here. God of Carnage received both Olivier and Tony Awards.

With a good script, the director is halfway there. Coleen van Staden has, in addition, four polished actors.

I cannot select one for special mention; they are all excellent. I saw one of the final rehearsals and can’t wait to see the play again on the Masque stage. I heartily recommend this sophisticated comedy for adult audiences.

There are only four performances left, today Thursday June 23, tomorrow, Friday June 24 at 8pm and two on Saturday, June 25 at 2.30pm and 6.30pm.

To book, call Masque Theatre Bookings at 021 788 1898 or email:bookings@masquetheatre. co.za