"God of Carnage" playing at Opal Theatre

It begins with a squabble over semantics regarding a fight between two 11-year-old boys but not before a pair of bumbling burglars serve as the traditional dancing popcorn and soda warning movie-goers to silence their cellphones, inform the audience to do the same and pitch the opportunity to donate to the playhouse. It’s the Opal Center’s rendition of “God of Carnage.”

The Tony award-winning play comes to Main St. in Cottage Grove this month and it is not for the faint of heart. Vomit flies and once the ‘f-bomb’ is dropped mid-way through the play, it becomes all out warfare. 

Ben picked up a stick and hit Henry in the mouth. That’s what had their parents stuck in a room for 90 minutes running the spectrum of humanity, society and depravity. And 30 minutes in, there was rum. 

It served as a catalyst for the marriages of Alan and Annette and Michael and Veronica to unravel in the best way—Veronica doesn’t drink, it makes her mean. Michael is in fact, not a liberal. Alan isn’t a huge fan of his kid (neither is Michael of his) and Annette is having the saddest day of her life. 

“It has so many different layers,” said Kim Fairbairn, the show’s Annette. “We take every path and explore every emotion.”

What begins as a meeting of the parents to discuss the damage done to Henry’s teeth becomes a tortured back-and-forth between parenting styles and eventually, morality with a few reality checks brought to us in part by frequent phone calls; sometimes from Michael’s ill mother and others from a business associate of Alan’s who is peddling a drug most likely contributing to Michael’s mother’s illness. 

The comedy is dark, the conversations darker and the final moments of the play, the group’s reflection of their behavior over the last 90 minutes hinges on a (hopefully not, probably is) dead hamster. 

While the start is slow-to-the-point and audience members may not buy into the conversation going beyond the first five minutes of discussing Henry’s injury, if reason can be suspended for a brief moment then the actors are good enough, convincing enough, committed enough and the play is done well enough to force you down the road to boredom, confusion, investment in life and theatre. 

“God of Carnage,” a Yasmina Reza play, will be performed at Opal Theatre from July 15 to the 25. Phil Dempsey, Nikki Pagniano and Dale Flynn round out the cast. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at Opal Theatre on Main St.