This Greenville Journal article by Paul Hyde was originally published on June 1st, 2023. Photo: Will Crooks (set rendering from news website – Will Lowry)
Two couples meet to have a polite conversation about a schoolyard bullying incident involving their 11-year-old sons.
In Yasmina Reza’s dark comedy “God of Carnage,” this civil chat quickly turns nasty and even violent, revealing the thin line that separates our respectable selves from our savage impulses.
The Tony Award-winning play, running June 9-25 at The Warehouse Theatre, manages to be both hilarious and hard-hitting, said Director Kerrie Seymour.
“I think people will find themselves laughing a lot even as these parents behave worse than their kids on the playground,” Seymour said. “They say terrible things to each other.”
The two couples — Annette and Alan, Veronica and Michael — are well educated, successful and generally liberal minded. But their outward polish barely conceals the anger, bigotry and predatory inclinations that lie beneath.
In the tradition of Moliere, the French playwright Reza aims at exposing modern hypocrisy, “that second face we all have,” Seymour said.
The menace-filled comedy is tailor-made for The Warehouse Theatre, with its motto of “intimate, intense, unexpected,” Seymour said.
The 2008 play, with a title that suggests humankind’s Darwinian propensity to violence, runs a brisk 90 minutes without an intermission to disrupt the momentum.
Seymour, an associate professor for the past 16 years in the Clemson University Department of Performing Arts, is a longtime Warehouse collaborator, having directed many comedies about people not getting along such as “The Cake,” “The Thanksgiving Play,” and “Laughter on the 23rd Floor.”
“God of Carnage,” translated from the original French by British playwright and director Christopher Hampton, won three 2009 Tony Awards: for best play, best actress and best director.
Theatergoers should note that the play includes strong language and is recommended for high school age and above.