Ambivalent parents are some of my favorite people. Parenthood is one of those great Hallmark whitewashes – you’re supposed to love your kids more than life, support them no matter what they do, and gently but firmly correct them when they stray. You’ve seen social media reposts upon reposts, “If I only had one breath I’d use it to tell my children how much I love them,” and blah blah blah. When life doesn’t match the bromides, some feel guilty. Modern American society is gripped by a “Cult of the Child,” with assorted devotions and mandatory sacrifices required to maintain good standing. A recent book is titled, All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood. I love that title – it comes from an honest, clever, ambivalent parent.
Yasmina Reza’s play God of Carnage is a comedy about ambivalent parents. It’s not a sitcom (there’s only one gag), but a comedy of manners that blows up the Cult of the Child. The taboo it tackles – parental (dis)honesty – is perhaps too raw to consider any other way. The action takes place as two couples meet to discuss a playground altercation between their eleven-year-old boys. What begins with good parental intentions devolves into an evening of brawls, mostly (but not entirely) verbal.
I’ll be playing Alan, who kicks off the brawling with this delicious line: “Madam, our son is a savage.” I’ll be reunited with Barbara Pratt as Annette; we played together in The God Game last October. Adam Kaczor, fresh off Blithe Spirit last month, will be Michael, whose easygoing social veneer gradually peels to reveal something else (if you guessed “eleven-year-old boy,” you’re on the right track.) Tara Golson, new to the Central NY stage by way of Los Angeles, will play Veronica. We read the play together for the first time last night, and you’re going to want to see this group of actors. Marilee Ensign directs (you’ve seen her onstage at Players in Company, and she directed A Delicate Balance there in 2013.)
God of Carnage (“A Comedy of Manners Without the Manners”) will be at Players of Utica, April 17-19 and 23-26, 2015. Details and tickets at http://www.playersofutica.org.