It was Hamlet who said “the play’s the thing”, and Yasmina Reza’s play has won so many awards, it feels almost impossible to say anything critical about it. It’s a light, frothy modern-day farce, which lifts the audience up, before pushing them out into the spring Chicago air.
When Alan (David Pasquesi) and Annette (Beth Lacke)’s son hits Veronica (Mary Beth Fisher) and Michael (Keith Kupferer)’s son with a stick while playing, the two couples meet to discuss the issue. The evening starts well enough, with some clafoutis and coffee, but quickly descends into farce, as people’s social masks begin to slip.
The play is a modern-day comedy of manners, asking questions about parenting, relationships, and the correct way to dispose of a cell-phone that won’t stop ringing. All of the actors put in solid performances, the highlight being Pasquesi as an oleaginous lawyer, looking to bury a story about his pharmaceutical client. His wife, Lacke, is suitably neurotic, given her workaholic husband and apparently feral child.
In most farces, all is at is seems, and Reza’s play doesn’t deviate too far from the norm. The biggest laughs come from the physical comedy, but if were being picky, I’d complain that it’s the play itself that really just doesn’t deliver quite the replete number of laughs per minute. It’s an enjoyable enough 73 minutes, that means everyone’s at home in time for the babysitter.
God of Carnage is playing at Goodman Theatre thru April 17th. For more information visit www.goodmantheatre.org.