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God of Carnage at TBTS leaves viewers with unanswered questions

September 17, 2012

From left: Marianne Ferrari and Kevin Kraft as Annette and Alan Raleigh, try to intervene as Veronica, played by Lisa Ann Goldsmith attacks her husband Michael, played by Robert Ierardi in the Rhode Island premiere of Yasmina Reza's comedy God of Carnage at Theatre By The Sea. Photo by Mark Turek

MATUNUCK – While “God of Carnage” at Theatre By The Sea is intended for a more mature audience, there are still some laughs for the younger crowd to enjoy.

The play focuses on two sets of parents discussing a fight between their 11-year-old sons, which led to one child losing his teeth. Chaos ensues when the couples cannot agree over how to handle the situation and punish their children.

The performance jumps back and forth between a battle of the sexes and a dispute between two married couples, the Novaks and the Raleighs.

I must admit, that as a 21-year-old unmarried viewer, some of the jokes in “God of Carnage” were a little above my head.

Certainly the show had its moments of hilarity that all could appreciate, the projectile vomit was disgusting yet humorous and the side plot of the “missing” hamster was great, but overall the play seems to revolve around the stereotypes of married life.

The four actors, all making their Theatre By The Sea debuts, played their parts well. Robert Ierardi, who played Michael Novak, was the funniest in my opinion, and made his character’s views on marriage quite clear, calling himself a Neanderthal at one point.

The men lamented about how marriage ruined their lives and wives complained about husbands who constantly chat on their cell phones and claim to be macho, when in reality they, specifically Ierardi’s character, are scared of hamsters.

The women, Anette Raleigh, played by Marianne Ferrari, and Veronica Novak, played by Lisa Ann Goldsmith, team up against their husbands but then fight with each other over whose child is to blame for the fight and what is the appropriate punishment. The men essentially have the same fight, standing up for their wives, often upon her command, but agree over what they make out to be the unbearable institution of marriage.

While the fight regarding the children is the main plot line, there are two side stories. One is of Michael Novak’s hatred of his daughter’s hamster, which he dumps into the street and later tells her it ran away, leaving her devastated. The second is of Alan Raleigh, played by Kevin Kraft, and his career as a lawyer, as he takes many phone calls in an effort to deal with a pharmaceutical drug found to cause dangerous side effects.

As an aside, my boyfriend who attended the play with me, said he found the plot of the pending pharmaceutical law suit more interesting than the main plot line and wanted to know what happened there.

By the end of  “God of Carnage,” written by Yasmina Reza, a Tony Award-winning French playwright, nothing actually gets resolved. The couples empty a bottle of rum, nearly everyone hysterically sobs and the lights dim while the four are sitting on the floor, drunk.

The audience is left to its own devices to imagine how things worked out, as one character asks, “What do we know?”

We don’t know too much of anything by the end of “God of Carnage” to be honest, except that parenting seemingly regresses adults to childhood complete with tantrums and childish behavior.

Funny at times, this show is meant for a more mature crowd, especially given the adult language. If you’re OK with deciding your own ending, then “God of Carnage” is for you.

“God of Carnage” runs through Sept. 16 at Theatre By The Sea, 364 Cards Pond Road, Matunuck. Tickets are $30-$49. Call 401-782-8587 or visit www.theatrebythesea.com.

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