Pacific Repertory Theatre, once again, lives up to its mission to produce "plays that engage, excite, educate and inspire" with "God of Carnage," playing at the newly renovated Circle Theatre in Carmel through July 14.
Two couples with very different educational levels, economic means and value systems meet in an attempt to cope with an incident where one of their 11 year-old sons hit the other in the face with a stick, breaking two teeth. But the "attack" or "accident" — depending on which set of parents is describing it — is only a springboard for the issues author Yasmina Reza explores. Carnage shows us the best people on their worst behavior, and we cannot help laughing uproariously as she does it.
Alan (Cassidy Brown) and Annette (Julie Hughett) are upper middle-class professionals while Michael (Tim Hart) and Veronica (Rebecca Dines) own a retail business. All four are in top form with a terrific script that swings from hilarity to pathos without missing a beat.
Everyone starts out politely, although Alan, a lawyer enslaved to his cell phone, responds aggressively to Veronica's insistent need to obtain an apology from his son. Annette and Michael continually inject unsuccessful attempts at conciliation. Then the spouses appear to support each other until marital conflict surfaces unexpectedly. Suddenly, loyalties shift and the men align against the women. "Appropriate behavior" entirely disappears. They continue to struggle to come together
Throw in Michael's "freeing" of the family hamster, Veronica's attachment to her one-of-a-kind art book, Annette's "tender tummy" and Alan's "lawyer-like" approach to the situation, the initial good intentions of both couples go horrifically awry to the delight of everyone in the theater.
Like her earlier play, "Art," produced by PacRep a decade ago, Reza has found the soft, vulnerable place in the center of her highly functional, modern, characters. The masterful use of language evokes the best of American playwrights and is a tribute to Paris-born, French-speaking Reza and her translator, Christopher Hampton.
The great set (Kenneth Kelleher), costumes (Ashley Rogers) and lighting (Joanna Hobbs) allow the audience to see and hear everything, and to revel in the terrific comedic timing of these actors who have been masterfully directed by Kenneth Kelleher.
If you go
·What: PacRep presents "God of Carnage"
·When: Thu-Sat 7:30p.m., Sundays 2p.m., through July 14.
·Where: Circle Theatre, Casanova Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues, Carmel
·Tickets: $16-$38 (discounts available), Golden Bough Box Office, 622-0100, pacrep.org.
If you go