God Of Carnage

Court One, Christchurch

16/10/2010 - 13/11/2010

Production Details

Bad Manners, Hilarious Comedy at The Court Theatre 

A phenomenal cast take on an international smash in GOD OF CARNAGE, a “comedy of bad manners” opening at The Court Theatre on October 16th.

Mark Hadlow, Ross Gumbley, Lara Macgregor and Rima Te Wiata star in a new play by Yasmina Reza (author of ART and THE UNEXPECTED MAN) that strips away the veneer of civility to explore adults behaving badly.

Two affluent Parisian couples meet to discuss a playground incident between their respective sons. However, what begins as a civilised discussion between adults descends into decidedly childish behaviour as tempers fray. GOD OF CARNAGE has been staged around the world to rave reviews. 

Director Jon Pheloung describes the team of Gumbley, Hadlow, Macgregor and Te Wiata as “the perfect cast for this ensemble comedy – we have two of the most recognisable faces in New Zealand alongside the two creative forces behind The Court Theatre. With all four characters together for the full ninety minutes, sparks fly on stage.”

Artistic Director of The Court Theatre Ross Gumbley says that “when I saw the glowing overseas reviews for GOD OF CARNAGE and read the script, I knew it was a show that audiences would adore. Reza’s script is so well written (translated by Christopher Hampton) and these characters are a gift for any actor. And of course, with the comedic and acting talent as we have in this cast – Lara, Rima and the long-overdue return of Mark Hadlow to The Court – it was impossible to resist taking the stage alongside them.”

GOD OF CARNAGE runs from October 16 until November 13.

Venue: Court One, The Court Theatre, Christchurch

Production Dates: 16 October – 13 November 2010
6pm Monday / Thursday; 7:30pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (no show Sundays). 
Tickets: Adults $46, Senior Citizens $39, Tertiary Students $27, School Children $16, Group discount (20+) $37

Bookings: The Court Theatre, 20 Worcester Boulevard; 963 0870 or www.courttheatre.org.nz

Mark Hadlow last appeared at The Court in 2001’s MY FAIR LADY.
Lara Macgregor has been appointed as Artistic Director of the Fortune Theatre in Dunedin and will take up the role at the beginning of 2011. Lara has been appearing in DON’T MENTION CASABLANCA in the evening and rehearsing GOD OF CARNAGE during the day – a practice known as “back-to-backing” in the theatre.
Rima Te Wiata will be “back-to-backing” to appear in the summer musical CABARET, opening November 20.
Ross Gumbley last appeared on stage in 2008’s THE BIRTHDAY BOY.
Jon Pheloung has appeared in numerous shows at The Court (SAVING GRACE, THE SEAGULL, ON THE ROCKS and EROS in 2010 alone). He directed BABYLON HEIGHTS in The Forge in 2007 and BAGHDAD, BABY! in 2008.

Cast:  Ross Gumbley, Mark Hadlow, Lara Macgregor and Rima Te Wiata

Brutal comedy has audience in stitches

Review by Alan Scott 18th Oct 2010

You need some kind of armour to watch this production, for it is not called God of Carnage by accident. About the only thing left standing at the end of the play was the set. 

The actors were exhausted from the verbal blitzkrieg they had waged against each other, and those of us watching were in a state of joyous collapse. We were battered senseless by the onstage antics, but we laughed till it hurt.

God of Carnage is a brutal comedy in which two supposedly nice, middle class couples meet to resolve the outcome of a school yard fight between their boys.

Soon, the family conference descends into a tag-team wrestling match. Then the couples turn on each other, and, before long, the men and the women are ganging up. This side changing is achieved by very skilful writing which is as funny as it is vicious.

In one sense, the play isn’t particularly satisfying. Its premise that civilization is a thin skin you only have to scratch for the jungle to sprout through is prosaic and its exposition of the cultured bourgeois hiding their true selves behind a façade of manners is a well worn theme. Indeed, the theme just seems an excuse for Yasmina Reza to let rip with her distinctive style of shocking comedy.

You will never see actors work harder for their money. The nervous and emotional energy needed for their roles was enormous. Mark Hadlow, Lara Macgregor, Ross Gumbley and Rima Te Wiata are a talented and experienced team and they all came through their wild descent into hell with flying colours.

Though occasionally over the top, even for this outrageous play they certainly gave the audience a memorable experience.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Make a comment

Reason v unfettered emotions

Review by Lindsay Clark 17th Oct 2010

A new play from the ruthlessly observant French playwright Yasmina Reza is already a compelling reason to secure a seat as soon as possible. Translation is again by the illustrious Christopher Hampton and the play attracted both Olivier and Tony awards for Best New Comedy and Best Play in 2009.

As always, the focus is sharp, throwing into relief the tiny hypocrisies and manipulations of language and perspective which allow civilised behaviour the moral high ground on the subject of violence, while the deeper truths about our motivation and actions are mostly kept under cover. Director Jon Pheloung understands thoroughly the actors’ opportunities and obligations in fleshing out the ideas and his dream cast works with assured finesse. 

We are in an open, elegant Parisian apartment, where two polite sets of parents meet to talk through the aftermath of their offspring’s confrontation. It seems that Ferdinand whacked Bruno, breaking two of his teeth. Even in well-ordered middle class families, these things happen after all.

What is surprising and thus furnishes the meat of the play, is the ever widening web of interpretations, explanations, revelations and eventually emotional outbursts the simple swipe initiates.

Self-made man Michel Vallon is a successful retail merchant. His wife Véronique is a writer currently concerned with Dafur. It is her use of language in a statement describing The Incident which triggers inevitable tensions, drawing the first response from media savvy Alain Reille, lawyer for a pharmaceutical outfit, whose ongoing crisis over a dodgy drug keeps his mobile phone in constant use.

Thus words and their connotations are the hilarious stuff of which the web is spun, until we witness the ultimate breakdown of reason and the even funnier/sadder triumph of action and unfettered emotions.

Annette Reille, seated in a neutral position between her husband and the Vallons, stays calm the longest, but her release when it comes is all the more startling and pleasurably shocking for that. You will have to see the play to appreciate the full impact.

As the couples test co-existence and sweet reason, allegiances form and re-form. Husband/wife loyalties fray as man to man and woman to woman understandings develop and sometimes it is just the individual who is left holding the thread of logic or illogic. On the way, this articulate play touches base with the wider world where unthinkable goings on in Dafur are not so far removed from the self-serving manipulation of ‘civilised’ drug promotion in the Western world.

Thanks to the wit and vividly dramatic business onstage there is no sense of a lecture here, only engaging humanity doing what it does, sharpened for our thoughtful pleasure. The cast, as anticipated, bring richly textured characters to the experience.

Mark Hadlow, is memorable as the marker of the ‘ordinary’ world, initially loose limbed and affable, working to scarlet faced frenzy, carrying the world before him on that wonderful jutting jaw.

Lara Macgregor has fearless physicality in her role as Véronique, “standing up for civilisation,” as she puts it, until the rum kicks in and real feelings kick out.

As Annette, Rima Te Wiata negotiates a similar path, her polite mask and restrained beginnings passing through passionate fury to rag doll exhaustion as the frustrations of moderation and mediation take their toll. 

The professional neutral Alain, played with fine control by Ross Gumbley, has the complicating factor of his incessant phone calls to attend to and when this is silenced forever, we are left with the telling image of techno-man unplugged. 

The creative team too has a significant hand in the triumph of the production. Tony Geddes (set), Brendan Albrey (lighting) Hamish Oliver (sound) and especially Jenny Cunningham (costume) furnish the environment in which Reza’s world is substantiated.

Her God of Carnage provokes huge laughter in the theatre even as we recognise the unfortunate human qualities she feeds on and the irony of so many high minded words. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council