Onbook Theatre presents God of Carnage performed in Barnes at the OSO Arts Centre. Yet another rare theatre gem. It’s positioned in an idyllic park next to a duck pond. Attending the matinee performance I saw lots of families and dog walkers making the most of the lovely sunny winter day. I can just imagine how busy the area becomes in the Summer.
Veronique (Rosie Edwards) and Michel Vallon (Luke Mazzamuto) invite their son’s friends’ parents, Anette(Emily Outred) and Alain (Malcolm Jeffries) around to their home to hopefully sort out and find a solution to a violent incident that had occurred between their sons in a local park.
It soon becomes clear that Alain has some serious matters at work and is constantly being interrupted by work phone calls and we quickly learn that he doesn’t particularly participate in the parenting role at home. His somewhat flippant attitude at times towards the entire event adds to the comedic value as we watch it frustrating the rather overbearing “helicopter parent” Veronique, who you soon realise doesn’t know her son as well as she thought.
Descending quickly into a comedic farce of carnage. the close and intimate proximity of the auditorium doesn’t allow you to escape the awkwardness of feeling like a voyeur who has stumbled into a private conversation as you share the awkwardness unfolding in front of you. Sitting in the front row should come with a trigger warning as it becomes rather messy on stage with projectile body fluids, water and flying tulips.
There’s an engaging and strong rapport between the cast of four. Allegiances between the couples change at times as details of what had taken place and why it happened are not quite as they seem. We never actually get to the bottom of who the victim in this alleged incident is. As any parent knows we never fully know what our children are up to all of the time, no matter how closely you monitor them.
Director Jason Moore brings the two couples to life brilliantly in the quaint suburban setting. There’s a lot of action taking place throughout the play and without a good eye for detail and a strong direction, it could easily get out of hand and become lost and “silly” rather than the smooth comedic farce that we were treated to.
Sadly the week’s run of the play finished on the 26th of February. It would be a great shame if it ended here as the cast work extremely well together and it would certainly make a very good touring production.
Photo credit: Giacomo Giannelli.