Sunday, April 17, 2011

Caldwell Theatre Company: God of Carnage (4 reviews)

The Caldwell Theatre Company opened its production of Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage on April 15, 2011.
...a comedy of manners without the manners. Boys will be boys, but can the grown ups be grown up enough to resolve their differences without losing sight of right and wrong? The fa├žade of civility shatters as the God of Carnage wreaks havoc in the living room and all hell breaks loose.
Kenneth Kay directed a cast that included Kim Ostrenko, Nick Santa Maria, Kim Cozort, and Michael Serratore.Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theatre Review:
...the production, expertly paced by director Kenneth Kay, lampoons the fragility and hypocrisy of the devices we use to lubricate social interaction: the meaningless banter, the forced smiles, the insincere agreements, the perfunctory but false forgiveness — anything to prevent our differences and self-interests from abrading each other raw. Reza leads you to expect a nuclear detonation that never quite arrives, which leaves the dramatic arc just a tinge unsatisfying.
That makes the considerable accomplishment of Kay and Company all the more laudable in clothing that framework with a fully-fleshed out evening of theater.
A lot of the acting is in facial reactions: Ostrenko’s glares as her lawyer husband takes dozens of cell phone calls from work in the midst of this gauntlet, Cozort’s angled head turned in disgust at everyone’s dismissal of her liberal philosophies, Serratore’s determination to smile through insults when his blue-collar background makes him want to smack someone, Santa Maria’s drunken dopey grin of surrender as he realizes the entire situation including his marriage is imploding.
Kudos to Tim Bennett’s plush urbanite apartment, all beige marble tiles and carpet set off by a ruby red upholstered furniture and a huge swatch of burgundy-colored cloth sloping from the ceiling to the floor, carefully arranged stacks of art books and a low marble enclosure that is supposed to suggest the living room as a sandbox but really gives the sense of an very expensive arena.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
At the Caldwell, director Kenneth Kay and a crackerjack cast mine God of Carnage for every trenchant, appalling, humorous moment Reza and Hampton have supplied. In just 90 minutes, four apparently sane and successful adults devolve from trying to have a reasonable if emotionally fraught discussion to drunkenly contemplating the aftermath of an all-out verbal brawl. That wild ride is persuasive and highly entertaining.
As they slide from adult calm to childish savagery, the Caldwell’s four impressive actors function as a dazzling ensemble and captivating soloists. Reza’s depiction of men and women behaving like mean-spirited, self-obsessed boys and girls is a resonant cautionary tale. And a very funny one.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:
The audience leapt to its feet, filling the theatre with applause, as the curtain fell on opening night of God of Carnage at the Caldwell Theatre.  But if I can be an intellectual snob for a couple of minutes I'd like to point out that five minutes into the show I thought, uh oh, it's Improv Night at the Caldwell and in the Category: Acting Styles, someone in the house has suggested “Sit-Com.”
A hit on Broadway and winner of three Tony Awards including Best Play, Carnage is pretty much a ninety-minute argument between two couples, highlighted by Kim Ostrenko projectile vomiting onto the coffee table.  Lesser moments include Kim Cozort bounding across a sofa to land on a prone Michael Serratore and beating him about the head and shoulders and Nick Santa Maria answering an incessantly ringing cell phone.  In a story line that has two well-to-do couples meeting to discuss a playground fight between their sons and then finishing as drunkenly maudlin wrecks who stagger around Tim Bennett's wonderfully faux art deco set, nothing really happens.

John Thomason wrote for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Kenneth Kay directs with the best of intentions, but this show lacks the crackling electricity and adherence to everyday realism that earned the Broadway production a Best Play Tony in 2009.
Sadly, that's all we get about this production. Thomason wastes several paragraphs on the singular special effect associated with the show, and we hate to say that he goes on ad nauseam, but that's the term for it.  Beyond that, there's no review, only script analysis.  Sure, the script is important, but what about the production?

It's hard to know if the problem lies with Thomason, or his editor, but either way the end result is an article that falls far short of valid theatre critique.  Hardly worth reading.

God of Carnage plays at The Caldwell Theatre through May 14, 2011.



  2. Anonymous- we link to the theatre's website for this very reason. Specifically for the Caldwell, you can click "contact us" and you'll find the list of staff.