A play about relationships, parenting, and mankind’s unbridled aggression, Yasmina Reza’s "God of Carnage" won the 2009 Tony Award for Best Play when it was on Broadway. The play opened at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts on January 25th, 2014 and proves you don’t have to travel to New York to experience an awesome night of brilliant theatre.
“God of Carnage” is the story of two sets of parents, who meet one night to amicably work out an agreement after their two 11-year-old boys have had a scuffle in the park. Armed with a stick, Benjamin, son of Alan & Annette, has hit Henry, son of Michael & Veronica, and knocked out two of his teeth. The couples’ civilized meeting gradually digresses into insults, bickering, and a series of repercussions, which then turns to all-out chaos – in this case, hysterically funny chaos.
The four characters are extremely well drawn and highly relatable. Alan and Annette, the visiting parents, are played by Jamison Jones and Amy Sloan. Alan is a self-absorbed, cell-phonaholic who is constantly interrupting the foursome’s discussions by taking calls regarding his legal case, and obnoxiously talking in front of everyone. Now, who in today’s world can’t relate to that?! His wife, Annette, is a somewhat uptight “wealth manager” who loses it, both figuratively and literally in a “puke” scene that’s as memorable as the pea-soup regurgitation from The Exorcist… although here, instead of being frightening… it’s hilarious.
Maura Vincent plays the accusatory mother Veronica, who, after succumbing to the rum her hubby has offered everyone else, descends into the physical violence that she purportedly so abhors.
In the Broadway version, the late James Gandolfini played the character of Michael. Here, in the same role, Hugo Armstrong bears little resemblance to the hefty, cuddly Gandolfini. Armstrong is tall, trim, and balding with a super, straight-laced appearance. As the injured boy’s dad Michael, Armstrong turns in a tour-de-force performance that continually has the audience in stitches. He starts out looking and behaving like a yuppified liberal, but as the evening goes on, before our eyes he tosses off his preppy sweater, pulls out his plaid flannel shirt, and reveals his wifebeater that more aptly shows the Neanderthal he is and proudly admits to being.
Yasmina Reza, who wrote the raucous comedy, is a multi-award-winning French playwright and novelist whose work has been translated into 35 languages, which shows the universality of the story. The English version, translated by Christopher Hampton, shows off Reza’s caustic humor and sarcastic insight, along with her wonderful characters, sharp dialog and a myriad of opportunities for laughs.
La Mirada’s “God of Carnage” is helmed by Director, Michael Arabian, who previously received kudos for directing Mark Taper Forum’s hugely successful “Waiting for Godot.” Arabian has directed the current production of “God of Carnage” with exceptional skill and style. Many people in the post-show crowd said they found this show even funnier than the Broadway version. When I spoke with director Arabian after the play, he told me he intentionally created more physical “carnage” for the actors, and indeed, the added physicality creates more sheer hilarity for the audience. His stellar cast delivers perfect comedic timing from the subtle to the outrageously un-subtle. There was non-stop laughter from beginning to side-splitting end, and there were even several applause breaks during the quick-paced, 90-minute show.
If you’ve never seen “God of Carnage” – you simply must go. If you have seen “God of Carnage” before – you simply must go! This is a production that warrants the drive to La Mirada for an evening that promises to delight. The theatre itself is a beautiful state-of-the-art building with a huge lobby graced with comfortable couches and chairs and a large impressive fireplace. There are lots of theatre posters on the walls to read and enjoy, or you can simply sit and relax before the play with a beverage or snack from the bar.
In summary, La Mirada’s new production of “God of Carnage” is an evening of rollicking fun that proves Southern California does indeed have brilliant theatre.
“God of Carnage” runs Jan 24th – Feb 15th, 2014
LA MIRADA THEATRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
14900 La Mirada Blvd. in La Mirada, CA 90638
Tickets range from $20 - $70
For tickets, call (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310
Or buy online at
Student, Senior and group discounts are available.