The God of Carnage
21 December 2007
An ordinary, even banal situation: two eleven-year-old boys get into a fight in the park, in the course of which one of them knocks out two of the other’s front teeth. Now it is the parents’ turn to discuss the incident and the consequences in a composed, temperate and tolerant manner as befitting well-mannered people. Sipping coffee and nibbling pastry, they ponder how to educate Ferdinand (the perpetrator) and Bruno (the victim). And that is by no means simple. Who was the real culprit? Maybe it was Bruno after all. Aren’t Alain’s and Annette’s marital problems perhaps an indirect reason for Ferdinand’s brutal behaviour? And finally, what is worse: the fact that pacifistic Michel secretly let his daughter’s hamster out of the house, or that Alan legally represents (and he does this all the time via his mobile telephone) a pharmaceutical corporation which manufactures harmful pharmaceutical products? New details from their seemingly harmonious family lives are revealed one after another and the relationships between the two couples become increasingly tense. Teasing graduates into verbal disputes, quarrels into fistfights, and a quiet afternoon among civilized people takes on dimensions which are, mildly speaking, unpleasant and which reveal how thin the surface of cultivated bourgeois behaviour is.
Using diabolic humour and mean rhetoric in her latest play The God of Carnage (2006), Yasmina Reza blurs the borders between civilized behaviour and barbarism. However, the point of this conversational drama, written according to all the rules of the art of comedy, is not a realization about going back to primitivism but the fact that there are no safety mechanisms anymore. Nothing works and nothing functions anymore – neither solidarity between the sexes nor loyalty to a spouse, neither refinement nor politically correct behaviour.
Directed by Jürgen Gosch, The God of Carnage was premiered in Zurich theatre Schauspielhaus in December 2006. The opening was overwhelmingly well received and the play was listed in the programme of Theatertreffen 2007 – the most prestigious festival of German theatre that takes place in Berlin annually each May. The first French production is scheduled for January 2008. The author herself will direct it in Paris’ Theatre Antoine, with Isabelle Huppert in the role of Annette. As Alain, Ralph Fiennes will star in the English premiere of the play, translated by Christopher Hampton, which will start at the Gielgud Theatre in London in March 2008.
As many as four plays by Yasmina Reza have been produced on the small stage of the Slovene National Theatre Drama Ljubljana including »ART« (1998; still running), The Unexpected Man (2000), Life x 3 (2002) and A Spanish Play (2005; still running).
The first Slovene production of The God of Carnage will be directed by Janusz Kica, who has won recognition with a series of dynamic and witty productions in Austria, Germany, Croatia and Slovenia.