Skip to main content

God of Carnage

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

Two kids fall-out because one won't let the other be in their gang. The gang-leader ends up with their two front teeth being knocked out for his pains. By rights, that should be the end of such rough and tumble. In Christopher Hampton's English language translation of French writer Yasmina Reza's play, however, it prompts a meeting of the two boys' parents to act as mediators of some kind of unspoken settlement. As with that other most painful of plays, Abigail's Party, the incident that kick-starts Reza's play happens off-stage, as an eruption of social savagery destroys any pretence at politesse. Only Erik Satie's quietest of revolutions playing on the stereo keeps calm.

Gareth Nicholls' production starts off well-behaved enough, as Annette and her lawyer husband Alain endure the niceties of the more seemingly liberal Veronique and Michel in their too-perfect white home. The soft play area is a dead giveaway of how boarders are repelled in Karen Tennent's design, as it acts as both moat and escape route while everyone collapses into fits of barely suppressed unhappiness. This is expressed with increasingly manic intent by the two couples, played over seventy minutes duration by Colin McCredie and Anita Vettesse as Michel and Veronique, with Richard Conlon and Lorraine McIntosh as Alain and Annette.

Reza's play may be almost a decade old, but in its up-close dissection of human frailty, it channels similar extremes to a more recent wave of dark dramas dressed up as sit-coms such as Fleabag and Catastrophe. This in itself points to how mainstream comic writing has grown up in its willingness to focus so unflinchingly on such discomforting behaviour. I blame the parents.

The Herald, March 13th 2017



Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…


Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …