The God Of Carnage

Meet Veronique (Sophie Dearlove) and her husband Michel (Neil James), and Alain (Tom Dussek) and his wife Annette (Jenny Delisle). They live in a neighbourhood where everything is just so, and the residents are perfectly nice to each other… until their sons, Bruno and Ferdinand, disturb the peace. Following a fight where Ferdinand knocks out two of Bruno’s teeth, God of Carnage explores how quickly thinly veiled niceties at a parental meeting can descend into chaos.

hilarious, quick-witted and quite frankly ridiculous

There’s a sort of morbid curiosity in watching people argue. You know you should look away, but sometimes you just can’t help but egg them on in the name of drama. God of Carnage is the sort of play giving you total insight into those neighbours whose arguments you might pretend not to listen to, whilst actually having your ear pressed against the wall. It’s hilarious, quick-witted and quite frankly ridiculous. As the parents work themselves into a frenzy, their conversation swiftly departs from resolving their children’s issues and becomes a farcical tennis match of insults.

The staging worked very well, a typical living room with two sofas either side of a central coffee table. This separation of the two couples, physically distanced by the table allowed the tension to build well as they each got braver with their insults. And with so much pent-up emotion, the adults forgot who was on who’s team: swapping positions on their respective sofas to turn on their partners instead.

All four actors were spectacular and wholly matched each other’s energy. With the constant jibes back and forth rapidly becoming less subtle, if Veronique’s eyebrows were able to rise any further, they would have hit the roof! Dearlove’s transition from a calm and collected yummy mummy to a woman raging and hysterical was characterised so well. Her strained facial expressions and snap change in tone of voice were hilarious and she totally hit the mark as her character Veronique. And the irony of Michel, a hardware salesman, becoming unhinged was not lost on me. Neil James’ switch from pacifier to aggressor was an excellent mimicry of the childish behaviour that they had initially hoped to resolve.

The use of the Alain’s constant phone calls were a great plot device to interrupt the theatrics. Dussek’s no-nonsense tone of voice highlighted Alain’s indifference to the situation and left the women with artificial smiles and Michel in his own world; comically picking crumbs off his shirt. Jenny Delisle’s rising and falling emotion as Annette acutely held our attention, and her awareness of when to amp up the dramatics was spot on. Her unexpected bout of vomiting does nothing to break the tension: instead, riling Veronique and Michel something chronic whilst undeniably entertaining the audience.

This show is an absurd yet captivating insight into middle-class quarrels. If you want to learn how not to resolve an argument, or simply want to watch one unfold: it’s definitely a show to see this Fringe!

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Reviews by Amy Betteridge

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Performances

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The Blurb

Dark comedy performed by multiple award-winning Pretty Villain Productions. Two children fight in a park, one sustaining dental injuries. Their parents get together to discuss the issue. What begins, amicably, as an attempt at a diplomatic meeting descends into accusations, recriminations, jealousy and rage, as the façade of civility crumbles. Boys will be boys, but what of the adults? In a year where Britain has seen scuffles over petrol, this dark comedy examines the veneer of respectability. Written by award-winning Yasmina Reza, most famous for 'Art'. 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2018 Brighton Fringe award-winners. 2019 & 2021 Brighton Fringe award-nominees.

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