REVIEW: God of Carnage

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The Tab talks to Ben Weaver-Hincks before the last night of his production, 'God of Carnage'.

James: So Ben, spin us a yarn about the show.

Ben: God of Carnage is a menacing comedy about middle-class pretensions and the darker side of human nature – making it ideally suited to a Durham student audience. Two sets of parents meet after their children have a fight in a local park, and over the course of an hour their civility descends into total chaos. If I called it ‘funny’ and ‘thought-provoking’, I’d be accused of using clichés, so I’ll just say that it provides an adequately entertaining evening of theatre.

This is Ben.

This is Ben.

J: The name rings a bell, should it?

B: When it hit the West End, it won the Olivier Award for Best New Play, and it’s had the third-longest Broadway run of any show since the millennium. Its film adaption, Carnage, recently hit the headlines when cast members Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and Jodie Foster had to travel to Paris for the shoot rather than New York, thanks to director Roman Polanski’s status as a fugitive. The controversy surrounding Polanski’s involvement in the project is arguably very apt, given that the script asks so many questions about our ability to make moral judgements and whether we have a social responsibility.


J: Big boots to fill then. Why did you choose to take it on?

B: Alex Wingfield, who plays the character of Alan, gave me a copy of the script and I loved it immediately. Those who haven’t taken a gap year may feel out of their depth with all the drinking, vomiting and discussions about Africa’s martyrdom condensed into one hour, but it really is a show everyone can enjoy. It’s fun, it’s threatening, and it’s messy, and directing it has been an absolute pleasure.


J: Has it been an easy journey to get to this point?

B: In the run-up to exams, with just two weeks from the first rehearsal to the final performance, it has certainly been a challenge. I’ve benefited from working with such an experienced cast and production team, who solve problems in half the time we’d normally have to rehearse a show in DST. The characters are already so fully realised in the script that developing them has been a really interesting process. I hear that Grace Cheatle has now been ostracised by a number of social groups, having adopted a little too much of her character’s painful self-righteousness.

It's one of those nights...

It’s one of those nights…

J: Why should people drag themselves away from their revision bunkers?

B: Because the show has been one of the biggest critical and popular hits of the last decade. Because the cast are deservedly four of the Biggest Names in Durham Student Theatre, and the acting is stunning. And because you get to see Elissa Churchill chunder absolutely everywhere. If you’re still not convinced, watch our trailer:

Book here:

More about the company:


  • Josh

    “I’m not black, I can’t speak on behalf of them…”

  • Exeter

    Well said!

  • What a joke

    What a fail. Look up the history. As someone with Jamaican ancestry my grandparents and parents still have memories of blackface being popular and it was widely used to enforce racism in the 60’s/70’s. You saying “stop crying racism” is effectively a spit in the face as far as i’m concerned.

    Honestly not been more angry about an article on here, it’s embarrassing. Especially the fact that you somehow think you’re qualified to speak about it.

  • Chanel

    Again the tab needs to seriously improve the standard of writers.

  • smh

    This is a really ignorant article, it’s not hard to do a bit of research before submitting such a possibly controversial piece.
    We aren’t offended by the body paint, we’re offended by the historical connotations.

    • smh right back at you

      What are the historical connotations of Cool Runnings?
      “We”…that’s what makes you think it’s offensive. “We” seperates and segregates all people. It makes it about us and them…
      That is the real ignorance.

      • Wut?

        I think they just meant ‘we’ as in the people reading the article?

      • xarxarbinks

        Surely if it’s not ‘us and them’, you wouldn’t need to dress up as someone else’s colour to accurately represent them, then? It’s all about what’s underneath, by your estimation, after all.

      • xarxarbinks

        Oh – and the guys in this photo are wearing a rasta wig, Jamaican flag and a weed leaf, which are not the costumes the Jamaicans actually wear in the movie, unless I’m mistaken. If they hadn’t painted ‘Cool Runnings’ on a box, I literally wouldn’t have been able to tell this was ‘Cool Runnings’ and not ‘generic offensively stereotypical Jamaican caricature’.

      • smh

        the historical connotations of blacking up obvs. And by ‘we’ i mean black people, this is an article about RACE. how can you avoid separating people?!

  • Ben Wright

    “Iu2019m not black…” that’s when you should have stopped.

  • Tired of it

    “I just donu2019t find it particularly offensive” You’re not the one being offended though, are you…

  • Simmy

    When writing articles on sensitive topics like this I think some respect should be put into the article. I know the author was trying to be funny but ” (I) have encountered racism as often as someone gets fingered in the Union. So a lot.” is in poor taste.

  • Oliver

    I agree entirely with this. I think the day we can not bat an eyelid at blacking up, or other racial fancy dress, will be a good day for racial equality.

    • xarxarbinks

      The problem with that is, though, we still live in a racist society. Until the day when we suddenly, miraculously *poof* into a society where honest-to-god racism doesn’t exist against black people and where blackface is never used to mock them for that precise reason, blacking up is always going to *look* completely fucking racist.

      • Guest

        Ok fine, maybe it looks

      • Oliver McManus

        Ok, maybe it looks racist. But the intention obviously isn’t racist, and isn’t that what should really matter? And if we see this kind of thing for what it is, just good-natured dressing up, doesn’t that bring us closer to that non-racist society? I feel like the “society is racist so you can’t do this” idea is kind of defeatist, and doesn’t allow room for improvement.

        • Late for Japanese but…

          Okay say I stamp on your toe with my heels. Like I never meant to hurt you, never mind the stitches you’ll need to fix your bleeding foot, my intention clearly wasn’t to hurt you so my actions are excused…right. Intention rarely excuses someone from the effect of their actions, this is why people aren’t going to buy your “b-buh they weren’t TRYING to be racist”. Not saying that these guys actions are the sole force perpetuating racism, what i’m saying is that it is adding to it regardless of their intention. This isn’t happening without context. Do you really expect people to actively supress the history that comes with blackface *o*? We can’t. nnAnyway, Black-facing without racist intent (uhhh yeah cause that’s a thing) is not a way to improve racial issues in society, especially if these ‘attempts’ are accompanied with boring stereotypes (What the hell has weed got to do with Cool runnings?) that some fools will use as as the basis of their treatment of you “Oh you’re from Jamaica? Lol supply me with de ‘erb bruv! Lol jk BANTAAAA”. What you’re suggesting is like trying to close a wound by continuing to slash it with the same knife you caused the wound in the same place. nn “if we see this kind of thing for what it is, just good-natured dressing up”, nnUhhh no… I see it as a bad parody of my skin colour and features, I see someone making yet another mockery things I’m continually made to feel ashamed about despite having no choice in it. I feel you’re really naive in wanting people to shrug and just accept this as a ‘good-natured dress up’. Educate yourself on these things and maybe you’ll understand why we can’tnnnnThis is a touchy issue but lets keep it civil ^^ Thanks,

          • Oliver McManus

            The problem you have seems to be with people perpetuating stereotypes when they dress up as black people. And ok, I can see why that’s a bad thing.nBut I think that’s a separate thing from just giving yourself a black skin colour. If I dress up like Barack Obama, and in doing so paint my skin dark (and wear a suit and wield an American flag or whatever), how is that harmful? I see that there is a superficial historical similarity with the use of blackface in parody of black people, but aren’t we grown up enough to see through that? As the first black president of America, skin colour is obviously one of Obama’s most prominent characteristics.nnnnI truly think that if we work towards a world in which dressing up with another’s skin colour is just as objectionable as using their hair colour, then that will be a better world. Conversely, I think if we keep skin colour in a class of taboo things to use, then we sustain the separation of people across racial lines.

            • Shannon Jasmine

              Yep that would be a better world. Unfortunately it’s not the one in which we live. As long as the world is racial and has people who will use black face as such, you are complicit in that system by using it, whether your individual intentions were good or not. It’s like saying a Hitler costume isn’t offensive because it’s just historically accurate…look at the context and consider the viewpoint of other groups. Why are you so desperate to justify the use of something so controversial?

              • Oliver McManus

                I wouldn’t say I’m desperate to do anything, I’m just expressing my opinion. Anyway here’s my point: just because that is not the world in which we live, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be. And I think if we collectively say we don’t mind blackface, then that is a step towards that world.

                By doing the opposite, by saying that blacking up is offensive, it is us who perpetuate a racist view of the world, not the people who are doing the dressing up.

  • you are an actual moron

    The fact this article has been written and published is absolutely disgraceful. How on earth can you write about a topic which you clearly have no knowledge on whatsoever? Blacking up is not about choosing to paint yourself in a colour for a laugh or fancy dress, it has historical meaning which is degrading to that race. And as for ‘stop crying the racist wolf’ well this just exemplifies what an absolute moron you really are.

  • u r quite racist honestly

    Saying that its okay because no one got offended by white chicks is a false equivalency. White people have never been oppressed for being white, and making someone look white does not have a history of being derogatory or offensive. I am completely horrified by this article. You’re right you can speak on behalf of no one and personally i feel the talc story was completely unnecessary and offensive? Just because the character is white doesnt mean that they should be played by white people, i mean you see in films made from books all the time that specifically black characters are rewritten as white people? clearly race isnt that important? or do we have double standards?

    • You so dumb

      Just because you’re ignorant of history, doesn’t make your opinion valid. Zimbabwe, Persian slave trade a are two of the biggest examples of whites being persecuted for being white.

      • Urgh

        Was that before or after they were colonised by white europeans?

  • YouAreATwat

    You ignorant bigot. What on earth possessed you to think that you were in a position to write an article like this? Keep your uninformed waffling to yourself.

  • Shannon

    “Iu2019m not black, so I canu2019t speak on behalf of them,” Well don’t then. nn”In my eyes they arenu2019t using this costume to be derogatory or u201cperpetuating stereotypes.” – they are just dressed as the main characters from Cool Runnings”. NO. I can tell you, as a Jamaican, dressing up in a black morph suit with a weed leaf on it is NOT dressing up as a character, which would involve y’know, the costumes from the Movie, it’s literally dressing up as a stereotype. I’m not saying its the be and end all of problems because it’s not, but this is just a really badly written, clickbait article that doesn’t understand what it’s arguing against.

  • DesiBoy

    Two fallacious arguments used in one article:nn1. ‘I’m brown, so I’ll assume I know what black people are thinking, because we both encounter racism.’ That’s like saying my Mum (who’s Indian) understands what a woman in Iran is going through because she too is a brown lady.n2. ‘Why complain about this when there are worse things happening in the world?’ It’s a pathetic attempt at relativism, and simply deflates any attempt at serious conversation.nnAnti-black racism in the Indian community, and in society at large, is a serious issue, and people like this are not helping the situation.

  • finaman

    I honestly don’t understand where the tab get the balls to publish this squalor – another truly ill-informed, unfunny piece of writing the Tab calls journalism

  • xarxarbinks

    How does it feel defending literal racism against black people, while knowing exactly how offensive it is (as an Asian person) to fall victim to racial stereotypes?

    Like – call me crazy, but I think if the boys up above had gone to the party draped in Jamaican flags or wearing Jamaica flag morphsuits (they literally sell them on the very same website page!) with a wig and a sign that said ‘Cool Runnings’, *without* the blackface,I would have been able to tell that they were representing the Cool Runnings bobsled team just as well. Why exactly is race a necessary part of the costume? Especially knowing the offensive history of minstrels and blackface in this country?

    Would you feel differently if a lot of white students went around painted brown and dressed in turbans, to represent that idea they had of what your ‘Asian dad’ was like? How about if they wanted to ‘brown up’ represent Asian characters (ooh, say, Aziz Ansari) from TV or film? I wouldn’t want anyone to have to ‘white up’ to represent a character of my race on TV or from history. I would hope the same can be said for Asian and black characters.

  • nope

    I don’t blame the author for writing these things; she’s just illogical, misinformed and above all, wrong. I blame The Tab for giving her a soapbox to stand on and publishing this tripe.

  • Chelsea

    I think perhaps you should watch D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation and perhaps you will then understand why your argument is not only irrelevant but also unbelievably ridiculous.

  • Ronnie

    Ridiculous article! Embarrassing

  • M Bird

    Quite low of you guys to perpetuate this exploitative clickbait. Is it worth it just for the page views?

  • is this for real??

    This article totally trivialises something that has huge significance in the normalisation of racism against black people. nTo move forward we don’t need to ignore what has happened and let it slide, people need to be educated and LEARN from the past. It’s unacceptable for white people to use the n word because of its history; exactly the same applies to blacking up.

  • Amy

    This article is an absolute joke. If you are suggesting that you would be unable to tell they were dressed up as cool runnings without black face then it proves that race is something YOU yourself cannot see past – you are using it as the sole identifier of a person. I don’t know where you must have grown up for people to think it was acceptable to change your skin colour for a school play either but frankly it’s unimaginable, the scrutiny placed upon schools

  • status quo

    There is a difference between dressing up as a stereotype, i.e. minstrel shows, white chicksu2026..etc and dressing up as a well known character(s) in this case cool runnings, I can agree that the dressing up as another race to try and make humour of them is completely unacceptable in modern britain. However is it not sad that if someone appreciates a character that they cannot emulate them? Furthermore if it is unacceptable to dress up as a character of another race then many cosplayers are being bigots by dressing as Japanese characters in many cases. Moreover if costumes are not acceptable what about puppets? Jeff Dunham is a well liked comedian who is world famous for his parody of a failed terrorist (who coincidentally happens to be middle eastern)

  • Fozzy

    On this note, please can people stop playing red face. Sick and tired of people dressing up as native Americans… My ancestors were scalped and made a mockery of, yet this is still deemed ‘acceptable’.

  • Glad I don’t go to this uni

    You can have a laugh in that ‘skin’, for a night. And yet I can never take mine off and so I guess the banter continues through out life for me eh? Aaayyy lmao! You’re really ignorant Sonia, what you’re essentially deeming as insignificant is actually yet another spice that is contributing to the flavoursome mixing pot of ‘widespread racism’ you urge us to concentrate on. Shit like this makes us uncomfortable in a skin we had no choice over. It is one of many things that continues to remind us about how the world believes black features are inherently funny, degenerate, ugly, scary…..gee you wonder why these black folk are crazy about that skin lightening, hair straigthening crap and *gasp* ‘acting white’ to get ahead or to be deemed respectable/not-shootable. This is utter gobshite.

  • Borton

    “I just donu2019t find it particularly offensive […] Iu2019m not black” aaaaaand there’s the issue.

  • Wilfrid Somogyi

    The reason blacking up is offensive and being covered with talcum powder isn’t is because the act of whiting up hasn’t been used for hundreds of years as on oppressive tool towards minority groups. It doesn’t have the same history and the same connotations.nnThis entire article is ignorant and clearly you have no idea about how subliminally racist our society is. It’s these seemingly small acts such as blacking up that perpetuate a racist attitude and make people think it’s an okay thing to do. This is a classic example of white men appropriating black culture and trivialising the issue.

  • Timi

    Are you a black person…. No. It doesn’t really matter if you don’t take offence, they’re not dressing up as you… This may well be the stupidest thing I’ve ever read. nnnYou’re also telling me (a black person) what not to be offended by, under the guise of pointing out how Politically correct we’ve become… That’s ridiculous.nnnPlease dont do journalism. If you are going to continue, then at least do it with some thought

  • Suchtripe

    Bloody well good for you you’re not offended by something that never targeted your race in particular. Have a bickie.

    Fucking hell.

  • cindy

    did you read the article she mentioned minstrel shows and said how this was completely different to that

  • E

    Her examples of racism are not relevant to the context, so this piece is pointless click bait. Not only was this published but it was published nationally. I know black people aren’t your demographic tab, but thank you for alienating potential readers.

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