Off the Leash Theatre.
November 3-5 2011.
“I am fundamentally uncouth!”
“Aren’t we all?”
God of Carnage is one of few comedies in any medium which can remain funny while the relationships of every character are strained and almost torn. Written by Yasmina Reza and accurately dubbed “a comedy of manners… without the manners”, the play is a magnificent exploration of two highly-strung couples who meet to discuss an altercation in a park between their sons which left one with two broken teeth.
Proceedings start simply enough. The parents have met for the first time in the lounge room of the family whose son was injured to discuss the wording of a statement of what happened. It is not long, however, until cracks start appearing in the relationships between every character in the play. What transcends in that room for the next 90 minutes is an extraordinary breakdown of relationships which is truly the work of the God of Carnage.
Off the Leash Theatre’s production of this play is nothing short of stunning. A one-scene story with just four characters, set before the frenzied chaos of a huge abstract piece by artist Kerrie Warren, the audience is captured and thrown into the mess as each of the soundly developed characters fall in and out of favour with each other and the viewers.
Veronica and Michael Vermont, played by Bec Wilson and Russell Taylor, perfectly portray a couple whose interests, pasts and personalities could not be more removed from each other. Veronica is an academic specialising in “Africa,” whilst Michael is a bigoted man with next to no care for his family, with the begrudging exception of his mother.
Michael Gaylard and Carmel Walton play Alan and Annette Riley, a couple separated by work. Alan’s job as a lawyer with demanding clients and a case before the High Court sees him attached more to his mobile phone than his neglected wife. It is no accident that Michael is shown as a lawyer – legalistic interpretation of words is an important aspect of the characters, and literary hang-ups are acted out brilliantly by the cast.
Directed by Tracey Gaylard, the group have expertly devised a way to make the one-scene production constantly interesting. The script had no space management advice, leaving Off the Leash to devise all stage management themselves. With this only their fourth production since forming last year, the group has shown themselves to be a serious player in Baw Baw theatre.
The final showing of this play is tonight at 8PM at the West Gippsland Arts Centre.
A fine cast led by a fine production team have created a must-see production. Off the Leash Theatre are set to announce their 2012 season at their Music Night at Drouin Bowls Club next Friday at 8PM. Next year cannot come soon enough.
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