God of Carnage

Last Saturday, Dan and I attended the French playwright/novelist Yasmina Reza’s extraordinary play “God of Carnage” at the Guthrie.  I would highly recommend it if you’re in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.  You’re out of luck in Los Angeles and Chicago, because alas, it recently ended in both those locations.

Here’s a few snippets from the one that ran in L.A.—with Janet McTeer, Jeff Daniels, Dylan Baker, and Lucy Liu.  I’ll set the story up briefly.  Two couples meet to discuss a playground altercation between their two 11-year-old sons…and as you can imagine, everything goes downhill from there.



What I found fascinating was Reza’s ability to build up a snarled and ambiguous world (yet very tightly organized, writing-wise) that highlighted human depth so well.  The clever thing about the story is that your loyalties never last with one couple (or one person) for very long.  The same goes for the alliances within the group of four.  Sometimes it’s the women against the men.  Sometimes it’s one couple that’s duking it out.  Sometimes it’s a free-for-all, every man and woman for him- or herself.  The dialogue raises profound questions, yet it’s outrageously, laugh-out-loud funny, and later, you think, “But if I had had to live through that, I wouldn’t have been laughing so hard!”  As long as the drama is left on the stage, it’s quite okay.

The theater guide quoted Reza from Simon Hattenstone’s “Art and Artifice” in The Guardian.

Laughter is always a problem….Laughter is very dangerous.  The way people laugh changes the way you see a play.  A very profound play may seem very light.  My plays have always been described as comedy but I think they’re tragedy.  They are funny tragedy, but they are tragedy.  Maybe it’s the new genre….I knew as a young child that everyone would die, that humanity was vile.  I had no optimism in human beings.  I have no faith in humanity.  Our first instincts are vile.

There you have it.  The whole shebang raises the same question I raised in my podcast “Are People Inherently Good or Bad?” What you believe is worthy of discussion, because it colors how you see (and live in) the world.

What do you think?

[Post image: Blood spatter by gerard79 on stock.xchng]

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