‘God of Carnage’ seeks contemporary realism

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Joshua Boley/The Chart

Devri Brock, senior theater major, and Ryan Odenbrett, senior theater major, rehearse a scene from “God of Carnage” on Sept. 3. 

Brad Stout, Staff Writer

God of Carnage, the most recent production to come from Missouri Southern’s Theatre Department, hit the stage on Tuesday, Sept. 10, and proved to be an uproariously funny look at the childish mentality of many modern adults.

The play, which is directed by associate professor of theatre Tim Klein, was held in the Bud Walton Theatre and will continue its run until Sept. 14.

Written by award-winning playwright Yasmina Reza, the play takes place in Brooklyn, NY, and revolves around two sets of parents who have decided to meet with one another in an attempt to resolve a playground altercation between their two 11-year-old sons.

As the meeting progresses, however, each parent quickly learns how much he or she truly detests the other parents in the room, and they all abandon their initial desire to settle the dispute in favor of some of the most hilarious petty arguments ever heard.

According to Klein, his goal when directing any play is to make the environment look and feel as real as possible to the audience, which is evident here by designer Matthias Grangers’ exceptional set design. With a personalized faux-wood floor and real pieces of furniture that could easily be found in any upscale home or apartment, Granger’s work proves to be the most stimulating visual of the entire play, and creates a true sense of realism that complements the characters’ personalties better than many other area set designers could have.

Unfortunately, though, this sought-after sense of realism that the set design helps to create is often spoiled by other aspects of the play’s production—such as the play’s overall pacing, which often creates a 

and consequently takes away from the actors’ performances by increasing the chances of line fumbling.

Additionally, the overall sound design for God of Carnage, which consists almost entirely of scheduled phone rings, proves more counter-intuitive to Klein’s desired realism than complementary. Each phone ring seems to come from the complete opposite side of the stage from where the phone and/or cell-phone actually is, ultimately pulling the attention of audience members away from the action.

Another issue that stems from the sound design is sound designer Lara Hicks-Burrow’s seemingly random choices for pre-show and post-show music. Instead of helping set the mood for the play, which is ideally the goal of pre-show and post-show music, Hicks-Burrows, seems only to plug an iPod into the sound system and hit “shuffle” to help fill the theater’s silence. This, combined with the distracting nature of each phone ring, makes sound design one of the weakest aspects of the show.

Fortunately, the cast’s collective performance helps make these issues more trivial than they actually are by keeping the audience enthralled and entertained throughout the production. Devri Brock, who plays Veronica Novak, makes the perfect snob and outshines her fellow cast members when it comes to conveying her character’s emotions, especially anger and annoyance. Despite some minor issues with overacting toward the beginning of the play, Ryan Odenbrett’s unfiltered portrayal of Michael Novak easily turns him into the most comical character in the show by far. James Zerkel’s performance as Alan Raleigh, though often hard to swallow when he is presented as a character in a position of authority over others, does a remarkable job at portraying a not-so-great father and husband. And last, but certainly not least, Abby Railsback’s performance as an unhappy housewife, who seems to be in an ever-present state of hysterics, proves to be particularly key in maintaining the play’s growing chaos.

Due to an excessive amount of potentially offensive language, God of Carnage is rated (M) for mature audiences only. For additional information, contact Terri Spencer at (417) 625-9393.