Elements Theatre Company is currently heading into its second weekend of performances revisiting Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage. We performed the play last September up in Boston. It always feels slightly dangerous to return to a work. We know (and pray) that there’s no such thing as a repeat performance. With a script and characters as rich as this, there’s always something fresh to be found. Plus, there’s the fact that this year we are bringing Carnage home to Cape Cod
I’ve been hunting for a certain quotation all week long and haven’t been able to find it. More than one of us remembers Yasmina Reza being compared to a jazz musician. All I can figure is that one of our panelists or talk-back leaders from last September must have made the reference – so with apologies to that individual, here goes my best re-creation of that comment.
Like a good jazz artist, Reza has an uncanny ability to introduce a striking theme, and then explore it from every angle—forward, backward, upside-down, right-side up, and inside-out—through the course of her story.
Take Carnage, for example.
The two couples who take the stage for this rather horrifying play invite stereotypical judgments. Veronica is insufferably self-righteous, Michael is a Neanderthal, Annette is a materialistic phony, and Alan is a self-consumed lawyer. But as soon as you think you’ve got everyone nailed, they say something that reveals a different facet of themselves. You love them, then you hate them, then you feel for them, and in the end, you actually see yourself in every one of them.
Then there’s the humor in the play—non-stop, witty, biting remarks and banter between the four characters. As we’ve experienced with every performance, and maybe especially with every different audience: one man’s gut-busting humor is another man’s tear-jerking tragedy.
Finally, there’s the actual matter-at-hand between the two couples, and what that inciting event represents to each one of them: the declining state of civilization, a legacy of violence, a financial inconvenience, an unjust accusation.
The scintillating themes of Reza’s Carnage spin on and on, and take us on quite a trip. We’ve certainly enjoyed the ride, and we hope you’ll be able to join us. Saturday night’s include talk-backs – we’d love to discuss your thoughts after the play!