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God of Carnage review at Theatre Royal Bath – ‘caustic comedy’

Amanda Abbington, Ralf Little, Nigel Lindsay and Elizabeth McGovern in God or Carnage at Bath Theatre Royal. Photo: Nobby Clark Amanda Abbington, Ralf Little, Nigel Lindsay and Elizabeth McGovern in God or Carnage at Bath Theatre Royal. Photo: Nobby Clark

Hot on the heels of a tremendous production of Arthur Miller`s family drama The Price, Theatre Royal Bath stages a revival of Yasmina Reza`s caustic comedy of middle class folly God of Carnage.

Premiering 10 years ago, Reza’s unsettling, restless play remains mint-fresh in its exploration of the pitfalls of parenthood.

Reza is best known for her hugely successful play Art. She’s particularly strong in underscoring the quartet of parents` anxieties about married life, as they come together in Peter McKintosh`s posh living room set to discuss a playground assault by one of their child on the offspring of the other couple. Civilised harmony quickly descends into ugly yet hilarious ferocity, with the parents` child-like insults flagging up their own insecurities.

 

 

Lindsay Posner’s production benefits from fine performances from Nigel Lindsay, as a self-styled neanderthal salesman, Elizabeth McGovern`s bleeding heart liberal, Ralf Little`s manipulative lawyer and Amanda Abbington`s fragile wife. All four are adept both at shaping the shifting alliances between the couples and at rapidly becoming more brat-like than their children who started the rumpus. Lindsay is particularly good, even winning a little of the audience’s sympathy, with his uncouth behaviour and Abbington revels in her memorable scene of projectile vomiting.

Posner makes clever use of the play`s structure, with each parent becoming in turn the focus of a scene. The play’s ending, however, leaves virtually unanswered all the questions surrounding social hypocrisy that it raises.

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Verdict
Strong production of Yasmina Reza’s razor-sharp, if oddly insubstantial, modern sitcom of middle class values
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