Singapore Repertory Theatre’s latest production is Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage, playing at the DBS Arts Centre from November 6 to 25, 2012.
Directed by Bobby Garcia, God of Carnage stars Adrian Pang and Lea Salonga as husband-and-wife team Michael and Veronica, whose son Henry has been hit in the face by Benjamin, whose parents are Alan (Arthur T. Acuna) and Annette (Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo). The play takes place in a single setting and starts off with the two sets of parents meeting to discuss the playground incident. However, this soon degenerates into the adults attacking each other verbally and even physically.
God of Carnage is described as a comedy of manners, and this is an apt description as the play doesn’t really have funny dialogue. Most of the lines are only mildly amusing. What makes this play so enjoyable is the actors’ ability to rise above the page and interject slapstick, along with facial and body expressions, that made the entire auditorium howl with laughter.
One such scene is when Annette throws up. In what would’ve been a protracted and boring scene in the hands of less able actors, Pang’s expressions of horror as he cleans up the vomit and Salonga’s overzealous cleaning and spraying of detergent and perfume on the books Annette threw up on hit the funny bone just right and sent the audience once again roaring with laughter.
In a later scene, Lauchengco-Yulo’s Annette is drunk; and as she curses at her husband, stumbles all over the stage, and threatens to throw up again, the audience cannot take their eyes off her.
Likewise, Acuna, who plays brash phone-hugging Alan, is also delightful to watch as he spews brutally honest opinions about his son and life.
While Reza’s play explores different facets of marriage and life, much of what’s brought up is not given a satisfactory conclusion, thereby giving rise to a feeling that more closure to the topics is needed. In essence, the play feels too light, not substantial enough.
It is indeed the actors who have to be commended for bringing the humour and comedy into a play that otherwise doesn’t have much that’s actually funny. It is to the actors’ credits that they make God of Carnage a fun production to experience.