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Review – “God of Carnage” at Left Edge Theatre in Santa Rosa – by Harry Duke

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Review – “God of Carnage” at Left Edge Theatre in Santa Rosa – by Harry Duke

Parents, when dealing with the behavior of their children, often behave more childishly than their offspring. There, I just saved you the 90 minutes that is Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage, now being presented by Left Edge Theatre at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts.

Left Edge’s Artistic Director Argo Thompson, whose noble mission is to present modern plays never before produced in the area, was no doubt impressed by the play’s pedigree. Reza, who took the 1998 Best Play Tony for Art, received a second in 2009 for …Carnage. The actors (Nick Sholley, Ron Severdia, Heather Gordon, Melissa Claire) were no doubt desirous of the opportunity to play roles originally performed by Jeff Daniels, James Gandolfini, Hope Davis and Marci Gay Harden and recognized with Tony nominations and wins, but…

The play’s the thing,

and it simply isn’t very good.  Now, before you throw the play’s numerous Tonys at me, please be reminded that Milli Vanilli won a Grammy, Charlton Heston won an Oscar, and the Oscar telecast regularly wins Emmys.  Award-winning status is not an infallible arbiter of quality.

90 minutes of shallow, vacuous people regressing into infantile behavior as they try to resolve a dispute between their children may be an interesting challenge for an actor, but no more a challenge than the one an audience has to endure to sit through it. Thompson and the cast play if for all the black comedy they can and there are some dark laughs (particularly if you’re a fan of on-stage vomiting), but Reza’a script is a one-note one act without a purpose. It may aspire to be a modern-day Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (with cell phones), but ends up playing like an elongated Saturday Night Live sketch. You know how SNL sketches often seem to have no ending? Same thing here.      

Left Edge, whose other inaugural season choices I’ve seen were interesting, well produced and excellently acted, misses the mark with God of Carnage. Few things are more depressing to a lover of theatre than to witness good actors in a bad play.

Just because a show hasn’t been produced in Sonoma County doesn’t mean it should be.

God of Carnage at left Edge Theater, Santa Rosa, CA

God of Carnage
Presented by Left Edge Theatre

through April 2
Fri/Sat @ 8pm

Luther Burbank Center for the Arts
Carston Cabaret
50 Mark West Springs Rd
Santa Rosa
, CA 95403

(707) 546-3600

Photos courtesy of Left Edge Theatre


Harry Duke Theater reviews