God of Carnage

God of Carnage 《狂揪夫妻》 was a play written by Yasmina Reza. Recently Hong Kong’s Dionysus Contemporary Theatre performed it at Singapore’s Huayi festival. It was in Cantonese but there were subtitles available.

Story

The name of the play made it seemed like it would be bloody and gory (the poster didn’t help either) but it was actually a black comedy about the bickering between four people. The background was that a boy knocked out two teeth of another boy in a fight. The play opened with the two sets parents discussing the incident at the home of Michael (played by Anthony Wong) and Veronica (played by Louisa So). The two sets of parents discussed about the wording of a joint statement about the incident. At first they were polite to each other but as things get more heated up, they started to bicker with each other and even their own spouses. The arguments soon moved from the two boys to wider and deeper topics.

Thoughts

I decided to watch this show because of Anthony Wong and Louisa So, two actors whom I’m familiar with. They are good actors so I thought it would be nice to watch them perform live on stage.

In the end, all four actors’ performance were excellent and their rapport was very good. There were plenty of fun moments in the show and each actor had their comedic moments. I think I had never laughed so loudly at a stage performance. There were also some physical comedy like when Anna (played by Olivia Yan) seemed to vomit out a neverending stream of water and horrifying the house owners. (I still couldn’t figured out how she did it as there is too much water for a mouthful or handful.)

Although the set never changed, I thought it was magnificent and detailed. It felt like the interior of a mansion and there was even a fake ceiling to complete the effect.

Although there was some mention of serious topics, the show never became too heavy nor did it sounded like preaching, mainly because most of what was said was purposely crafted to create maximum irritation in the other party in the quarrel. Plus the four characters became increasing irrational and childish as the play progressed, so it was hard to take anything they said seriously.

I never did figure out why the play was called God of Carnage. Alan (played by Poon Chan Leung) briefly mentioned that he believed in the God of Carnage but I didn’t understand what that has to do with anything. But that’s fine. As Michael said at the end of the play, “Actually we know nothing at all.” (Or was that “What did we really know?” No matter, obviously I know nothing.)

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