“God of Carnage” by Yazmina Reza opened at The Las Vegas Little Theater on September 6th. I caught the second performance.
The play takes place in the living room of Michael and Veronica Novak, played by T.J. Larsen and Daci Overby, where they are set to discuss a playground fight between their son and the son of Annette and Alan Raleigh, played by Stacia Zinkevich and Mark Brunton. I saw the play as a sociological treatise between two couples who have hidden resentments toward each other and are being held back from their own truth. They all want to find an honesty within themselves, though whether they can break their societal roles to find that honesty is up for question.
I related strongly to T.J Larsen’s character, Michael Novak, a man buried by his marriage, a man who is passive so that he can keep the peace. He made me feel that I wasn’t the only one who had gone through that experience and I appreciated his portrayal of the character. His transformation in the play into a stronger man was encouraging and well-depicted.
He and Alan Raleigh join forces against their wives, during the climax of the play. It was almost like once they saw their wives lose composure and strength they became stronger. Maybe they saw that as an opportunity to change the dynamics of their relationships.
Though the character of Alan Raleigh was the most honest character throughout the duration of the play, during the discussion between the parents he detaches himself from the reality of the situation by way of a nagging cell phone. I think the playwright, Yazmina Reza, could have made her point with less distractions from the cell phone, as I believe it took away from the focus of the play. Even though he didn’t seem to be a good husband, or even a good person for that matter, I somewhat looked up to his confidence and honesty. During the discussion he was trying to make the others realize certain truths about the situation. Therefore, it did seem like he was trying to help the situation even though he didn’t want to be bothered with it.
The performances of Zinkevich and Overby were not as strong. However, I don’t think it was due to lack of talent, the characters were just written weakly. They did not have as much room to shine. Overby’s Veronica Novak seemed to be a woman feigning strength for her family’s sake and to take charge of her marriage because her husband just did what he was told, and at least in the beginning of the play, seemed defeated. Even though Veronica isn’t honest about her strength as a woman as she wanted people to think she was, Overby’s portrayal is honest and I believe her conviction in the role.
The character of Annette Raleigh is quiet and reserved for most of the play. Once she starts drinking though she loosens up and it becomes one of the funniest parts of the performance, though I would have liked it if Zinkevich went even further with her depiction. The humor of the show and superb delivery of lines kept the audience laughing and engaged. The direction by Ela Rose was well-staged, breathing life into the living room set.
God of Carnage continues at Las Vegas Little Theater through this weekend, 9/19, 9/20, and 9/21 at 8pm; 9/22 at 2pm. The show is in the Black Box at 3920 Schiff Dr. Tickets for the last four performances can be bought at http://www.LVLT.org.