Preview: God of Carnage

A fun-filled social commentary to start your May Week

Offering a new twist on the critically acclaimed French play God of Carnage, the Dryden Society is staging a beautifully thought-out production in the Trinity College Fellows’ Gardens to kick off your May Week.

Before the show’s premiere on Thursday, I discussed the production with directors Sophie Rayner and Alex Velody and producer Maddy Power to help give a little insight into what we can expect from the production.

This show certainly seems to be a fun-filled team effort (Image Credits: Alex Velody)

Whilst summarising the show’s plot, Velody emphasised that the play’s “gripping exploration of hypocrisy and the fragile nature of relationships exposes the thin line between civility and savagery.” Although it may initially appear that the play merely hinges on a “playground altercation” and parents attempting to deal with the fallout thereafter, God of Carnage explores all aspects of human relationships, including “raw aggression, biting sarcasm, and seething resentments.” As “social conventions dissolve within the space of a back garden, revealing the true nature of human beings”, the play confronts the audience with their own flaws, nonetheless showing that to be flawed is to be human.

Discussing the importance of the show’s message, Rayner illustrated how important it was for her to depict that “adults can sometimes (often) get a little bit (very) silly.” By ironically presenting adult relationships through the context of sorting out a “playground incident” between their children, for Rayner the play symbolises how easily the façade of “neat and tidy British politeness” can fall away upon provocation. By creating a contrast between children’s and adults’ interactions, Rayner believes that Yasmina Reza, the play’s author, is able to brilliantly depict how adult relationships are not as mature as they seem.

Comedic absurdity can be seen everywhere, from costumes to acting performances (Image Credits: Alex Velody)

In regard to the choice of production for this term’s show, producer and the society’s president Power said it was important to her to “put on a fun garden show” to celebrate her role in the society. Whilst “the show in itself is hilarious”, Power is just as excited about the society itself as she is about Reza’s work.

However, despite the acclaim Reza’s play has already enjoyed, Velody believes that this iteration “stands out by wholeheartedly embracing the absurdity and ridiculousness inherent in the play.” Building on the framework of “Reza’s brilliantly hilarious writing”, this production has attempted to create “a ludicrous and cartoonish exploration of the dynamic interplay between the characters.” By explicitly portraying these characters in a delightfully exaggerated and caricatured fashion”, Velody believes that this production delves even deeper into their nature and motivations, allowing for greater exploration of the themes and issues Reza writes about.

For a play so rooted in its human characters and their interactions, Rayner interestingly claimed that her favourite moment from the play is related to “Nibbles the Hamster”. Because “the hamster is a recurrent theme in the play”, it perfectly personifies the absurdity of the show, which for much of the team appears to be the highlight of putting on this production. Reflective of the play’s obsession with adults’ immaturity, Rayner said that her favourite line has to be “Their son bashes up Bruno, and I get shat on because of a hamster?” I don’t think that the play’s humorous tone could be summed up any better.

Although the garden setting helps to convey the show’s humorous and laid-back tone, Velody did emphasise that the setting presented “the limitations of large set pieces outdoors.” However, overall, it seems that the crew have been able to use the outdoor setting to great advantage, as it “allowed [them] to effectively highlight the themes of fragility and façade of human politeness.” On the whole, the crew appeared to embrace any challenges as a “creative puzzle” aiding the fulfilment of their vision.

A garden setting reflects the show’s laid-back comedic tone (Image Credits: Alex Velody)

When asked the main reason why people should come and watch the show, Power said that a viewing of the play is a great way “to celebrate the end of a long, tiring exam season.” This play is not just a show but an experience, so “come spend an afternoon sitting in the Trin gardens with a couple glasses of bubbly, a slice of cake, enjoying the sun, and having a laugh!”

So, take the sunshine as a sign that your exams have gone well and use it as an excuse to kick back and relax in the Trinity Gardens this May Week.

God of Carnage is showing from 15th-18th June in Trinity College Fellows’ Gardens at 4:30 pm. Book your tickets here.

Feature Image Credit: Shaira Berg

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