Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Something to get your teeth into

Veronique, Annette and Alain

Mine host Veronique (Sue Hawkins) with guests Annette (Sarah Colloby) and Alain (Ian Mason)

God of Carnage

Swan Theatre Amateur Company

Swan Theatre, Worcester


IMAGINE a sort of happy families crossed with a grown up version of Lord of the Flies all set in a suburban Paris sitting room.

It all starts innocently enough. Ferdinand Reille and Bruno Vallon, 11-year-old friends, have had a disagreement in a local park which ended with Ferdinand whacking his friend with a stick breaking two of his teeth.

So that night the Vallons, Alain, a corporate lawyer so attached to his mobile phone he would probably need it surgically removed, and his wife  Annette, who is in wealth management, visit the home of the Reilles, Michel, who has his own household goods wholesale business and his wife Veronique who is writing a book on Darfur.

They are meeting to discuss the matter and perhaps arrange a meeting between the two boys, all very civilised . . . or so it seems.

But as the evening wears on, constantly interrupted by Alain and his mobile, as he deals with a crisis with a pharmaceutical company client marketing a dodgy drug, the civilised part of the discussion goes downhill fast degenerating into absurd arguments and name calling – more childish than the children they are discussing and at times very funny. 

And as the arguments bounce around so allegiances change from the two couples combining forces against each other then switching to the men against the women - we even have moments of intellectual wife swapping – and toMichel complete the set, husband against wife as each marriage gets its own stick in the teeth.

As the night wears on and the 15-year-old rum flows, out goes political correctness and in comes racial prejudice, homophobia, sexual prejudice, attacks on each other’s businesses, attacks on marriage, each others, their own and in general, the murder (alleged) by Michel of Nibbles, the Reilles’ hamster and, as the highlight of the evening, Annette throwing up on the arty coffee table book collection.

Michel (John Lines) decides when all else fails there is always the bottle

Ian Mason is a convincing Alain, a pedantic lawyer very careful in the use of words and their legal implications to the point of ridicule. There is no love lost between him and his son nor much between him and Annette, played by Sarah Colloby, or anyone else it seems although he belligerently defends Ferdinand’s legal position out of habit

Colloby gives us an Annette who is defensive of her son as a mother and gives an air of feeling rather superior to the Vallons – they are trades people remember.

Sue Hawkins’ Veronique is supposedly the liberal of the piece, the peacemaker and the instigator of the meeting, initially wearing her conscience on her sleeve, preaching tolerance yet, it turns out, the most violent of the quartet, while Michel, played by John Lines, is an easy going sort of chap who goes along with what his wife says . . . initially, and then out come the cutting remarks as lines are drawn in the sand.

 Once the meeting starts it very soon becomes clear that the four are walking on egg shells. One word out of place, even if only perceived, and hackles rise and the attack of one boy upon another is just a minor sideshow. And as the meeting heats up, so does the language as all thoughts of a civilised, grown-up dialogue vanish in a whirl of expletives.

The four of them do a wonderful job as we see their characters change and develop as the night evolves with even the audience allegiances changing. There was a lot of dialogue to learn and timing had to be good to make it work, and make it work they did.

There was also clever use of pauses, particularly early on when the couples first meet.  Silences make people uneasy in their own conversations, especially when talking with strangers, and when it happens on stage it makes an audience uneasy, taking them out of their comfort zone and imperceptibly building tension which was all cleverly done by director Tony Childs.

Yasmina Reza original 2006 French play, here translated by Christopher Hampton, has been shown around the world and has been a hit in London and New York, striking a universal chord of recognition of varying degrees no doubt with parents and couples alike. It is a funny, human and at times cruel observation of human relationships and a lovely studio production. To 21-03-15

Roger Clarke


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