Bruka’s “God of Carnage” Ignites the Stage with Humor and Rage
When I first heard that Bruka theatre company was putting on a show entitled “God of Carnage” I took a literal interpretation of the title and assumed I would watch a drama relating the trials and tribulations of some Ancient Greek God of destruction, as he/she wreaks havoc amongst the general population. Instead, this one-act play centers on the questionable ethics of humanity and the vague blanket of moral superiority we often don in our interactions with one another. When Benjamin smacks fellow classmate Henry in the mouth with a stick, the parental units of both children must come together to decide on the most appropriate course of action. Henry’s parents, Michael and Veronica, cannot stress the severity of the situation while Benjamin’s parents – Alan and Annette -, being the hoity-toity 1%-ers that they are, adopt a more “boys will be boys” mentality. What ensues is a proverbial shit show as the parents revert from civilized, well-mannered folks into drunkenly deranged Neanderthals slinging insults left and right and throwing grand hissy-fits. The incidence in the playground becomes a forum to discuss and dissect a number of other social issues and constructions including class, status, colonialism, and violence in America. Unfortunately, the incidence has the dual effect of bringing to light a number of problems, resentments, and unbridled rage that Michael, Veronica, Alan, and Annette would like to keep hidden; A catalyst that ignites pent-up issues and emotions within the adults.. Who is right? Who is in the wrong? Who is ultimately at fault? These three questions define the entirety of the play as each character strives to answer these questions for themselves.
With any Bruka show, audiences can expect a beautifully crafted and executed production, and God of Carnage is certainly no different. The theatrical piece features some of Reno’s most stellar thespians, including Mary Bennett, Bradford, Ka’Ai’Ai, Gary Cremeans, and Kristin Moffitt – I fondly refer to them as the Dream Team. The juxtaposition between the morally righteous and the ethical realists is brilliantly played out as each parent attempts to set themselves up as the sole voice of reason amidst of sea of whiney martyrdom and moral ambiguity. The show is extremely relevant in a time where politicians, religious leaders, and protestors are using the “moral high ground” as a justifiable excuse for less than ethical or righteous purposes. In some respects it was as if I were watching a presidential debate unfold in front of my eyes – only smarter and the play did not reduce me tears, rocking in the corner, fretting over the current and future state of these United States. What I loved most about this production were the brilliant non-verbal verbals the actors infused into their characters. As funny as the script was, the true comedic moments came from the cleverly placed stares of death or knowing glances the characters used to emphasize a point. Also, seeing Mary Bennett stomp around stage, having one of the most epic temper-tantrums of all time, is an image that will stay with me forever. My only advice for potential theatre-goers is to make sure to empty your bladder before the show begins. The hour and forty minute production has no intermission, so if you have a bladder the size of a peanut – like myself – make sure to abstain from liquids three days in advance of the show. God of Carnage, directed by the incredible Tony DeGeiso, is a must see comedic production featuring some of Renos’ finest. The play is running now through the end of May. Check out Bruka’s website for a listing of performance dates and prices.