In a neighbourhood park, little Benjamin whacks his playmate Henry with a stick, breaking two teeth- so begins Yasmina Reza's black comedy God of Carnage.
GoC explores the notion that nothing will be gained by behaving like children but this is exactly what happens to the four adults in this story that is deeper than it may initially appear.
Each character reveals something less than civilized beneath their collective cultured veneers and it is within this chaos that Reza makes her most poignant point. Actor Angela Glennie concurs: "In my opinion Reza is exploring many themes but the one that jumps off the page at me is authenticity. I play Veronica (who is currently writing a book about Darfur) and she is so preoccupied with trying to be authentic in her world that the amount of work and pre thinking that she puts into her efforts take away any hope that she ever has of achieving it!"
As well as this idea of supercilious falsehoods, Reza also tackles the oft taboo subjects of misogyny, racial prejudice and homophobia. The play is an explosion waiting to happen and Reza uses her calm before the storm style to great effect. Actors from far and wide are attracted to this strong four hander and Glennie is no exception. "After seeing God of Carnage at Williamstown last year I put it very quickly onto my to do list," she says. " It's a play unlike anything I have done ( or seen before). Yes it is reminiscent of Virginia Wolf but it looks at all that is wrong in society with such humour and voyeurism that it makes for an irresistible blend."
The play is a Tony and Olivier Award Winner. The play was a huge success on Broadway and starred Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden -all four actors were nominated for Tony Awards for their performances. It was also a 2011 Roman Polanski film starring Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet, so its pedigree is strong. Locally it has had numerous showings via the non professional theatre circuit and continues to knock 'em out at each presentation.
GoC is a play translated from the French but, according to Glennie, there is not a skerrick of 'lost in translation' to be found anywhere in the script which means that meaning and intent remain as Reza originally created. "I have read/ seen 3 different versions of the script and going into the play I expected to be challenged by passages that from memory were somewhat clunky in their composition," Glennie says. "However this particular translation is pleasing in that the clunkiness that I was expecting hasn't appeared. In fact there is a lovely rhythm to much of the script."
The play is in the very capable and creative hands of director Justin Stephens who is fresh from his critically successful Woman in Black earlier in the year. His notion for the rehearsal process was that all actors must present to the first rehearsal with books down.
Says Glennie of that process: "One of the most obvious challenges was coming into the rehearsal period with lines down. Not walking the set with a script in hand whilst trying to juggle lines, moves and precise emotional timing has at times been a bit of a brain buster! This journey has been unlike any other I have been involved with. It has been fast paced, challenging, extremely good fun, sometimes a bit wrong and satisfying all at the same time; quite like the play itself!"
Actors and director have worked hard to get this production right. It is Glennie's hope that audiences will be delighted by this play. "Will they see snippets of each character and or action in their daily lives? I hope so and I hope that in identifying these they chuckle and make a promise to 'take everything more lightly'," she says.
"I would encourage people to come along and see a production that is refreshingly left of centre and allows you feel as though you are sitting in the lounge room where the action takes place. If you are at all interested in reality TV ( but somewhat tired of its predictable unpredictability) then God of Carnage is for you! See you at the Bakery!"
The season is almost sold out, and as a result two new performances have been added – Tuesday 22 and 29 October so take Glennie's invitation and book before it's too late.
October 9 – November 2