Yasmina Reza’s play focuses on how we don’t listen to each other
Warning: this play includes violent, catastrophic, and icky content. The director is even considering providing the audience members barf bags. “God of Carnage” by Yasmina Reza is a dark comedy about two married couples who meet because one couple’s son hits the other couple’s son with a stick. The couples try to resolve the incident diplomatically, but when they fail to see eye-to-eye, things escalate very quickly and the situation devolves into what the cast describes as chaos and entropy.
The play pokes fun at today’s polarized society. Jacob Ryan ’22, who plays Michael Novak, added that although it centers around what seems to be a “minor disagreement,” there turns out to be huge consequences. The play reveals how we don’t “talk to each other in productive ways” explained Julia Herrero’21, who plays Veronica Novak. Today, people “don’t know how to listen to each other, they are just repulsed by someone they don’t agree with,” said John Bryne ’22, who plays Alan Raleigh. The show’s assistant director, Claire Hughes ’20, added that while “the concept of being an adult is a big scary thing, it doesn’t take much to regress to childlike ways.” She gestured at Bryne and added that he “plays a lawyer,” but ends up putting Ryan’s character into a headlock.
According to the cast, everyone ages 16 and up should “come to laugh your ass off” at the show. The actors added that they had a lot of fun working on the show. Rehearsals were spent exploring characters, which are nothing like the actors’ regular personalities, and learning how to scream at each other. Herrero said, “I’m not very mean in my day-to-day life, but [Veronica] is a funny character because she is so annoying, so full of herself. She gets to be mean and nasty, fighting with everyone. It’s so fun to play.”
Hughes added that the two plays that Dr. Domenick Scudera is directing this semester (the other being “Agnes of God”) are the first Ursinus productions where Dr. Scudera has had students as assistant directors. Hughes enjoyed working with Dr. Scudera, “starting to get on his wavelength with what he wants and what he expects.”
One of the most exciting things about “God of Carnage” is the use of “physical comedy,” explained Hughes. For Byrne, the most exciting thing about the show is its absurdity because “as actors, we get to be really over the top and the physical comedy is so funny.” Byrne said, “If the audience has half as much fun watching it as we did rehearsing it, they’ll get their money’s worth.”
“God of Carnage” will be performed at Ursinus on Feb. 27 and March 1 at 7:30 p.m., and on March 2 at 2:00 p.m. in the Blackbox theater of the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available online. Visit the Ursinus website for more information.