Dissecting The Le Dieu du carnage by Yasmina Reza – Part 1


Yasmina Reza came up with the award-winning and hilarious play called ‘God of Carnage.’ Reza is a French playwright who won a Tony Award for her work entitled ‘Art’ for Best Play. Reza has a different way of looking at human behavior and their reactions. “God of Carnage” starts with a polite discussion between two sets of parents whose sons get into a battle in the schoolyard and end revealing the middle-class values of their parents exposed, unflattering to the spotlight. The play opens with the set in a Brooklyn home of Michael and Veronica, where the hosts are on one couch and have guests Alan and Annette. Veronica has spent time in Africa and is appalled by the violent beating her son Henry suffered at his friend’s hands. Benjamin’s beating causes Henry to lose his teeth, besides his self-esteem.

LOSANGELES: ET-04-04-11: (L-R) Jeff Daniels, as Alan, Marcia Gay Harden, as Veronica, Hope Davis, as Annette, James Gandolfini, as Michael, perform in A God of Carnage at the Ahmanson Theatre in downton Los Angeles April 03, 2011 to be reviewed by Charles McNulty. The play features the original broadway cast of : Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden. (BarbaraDavidson/The Los Angeles Times)

The Brilliant Characters

In a self-congratulatory mode, Veronica initiates the discussion by informing Annette and Alan that she will be glad to pay for Henry’s broken teeth, while the other couple seeks an apology.  Now her politeness comes punctuated with comments and deteriorates into the equality of how each couple faces insecurities in life. They begin to reveal how they chase the role of perfect parenting as individuals. With time these two couples come up with rapid-fire barbs escalating into physical assaults to the extent that their behavior appears worse than a schoolyard brawl.

Alan is a corporate lawyer, concerned with his clients business. His uptight wife responds by vomiting over the coffee-table and books that are prized by Veronica. Michael jumps in immediately to pull a blow dryer to dry the wet carpet, and this works perfectly to calm his wife’s shrieking hysteria. Here it appears that Michael is the only sane person in the entire group, but James Gandolfini plays Michael, so you already know his civility appearance will not last long.

The barriers collapse and tongues go loose, while the Bric-a-brac goes flying. They are competing parents. The men believe they can smoke cigars and drink rum if they desire and women stake their identities of possessing prestigious careers. However, Reza proves her talent of being a great playwright by presenting a bigger idea. This play showcases how one brags to another person and shows pompousness. The play has four upper-middle-class white people of New York.

Reza has structured this play such that each character becomes the center of a scene, and this gives the viewers an insight into what makes them behave in the manner they do and why they say the things they say. The fight between Benjamin and Henry is just a simple starting point, and that is what ‘Carnage’ is actually about. It brings out how women and men define strength, and how the pretentious middle-class affectations prevent men from actually being real men. All the characters are strong, and there is the hilarious melee on stage. Gandolfini is a stellar cast, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels, and Hope Davis; all offer their best performance in this play that it is a guaranteed Tony nomination and maybe the statuette as well.

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