Lewisville — The thin veneer of civility is worn away by both figurative and literal bile in Yasmina Reza’s caustically funny God of Carnage, presented by Our Productions Theatre Co. at the Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theatre.
There has been a fight on the playground in a local park. Benjamin has hit Henry with a stick, knocking out two of his teeth. It’s the kind of adolescent conflict that’s almost a rite of passage for young boys. But, an attack of this severity cannot happen without some kind of recourse. Therefore, Alan (Jeff Swearingen) and Annette (Stephanie Riggs), parents to the offending Benjamin, visit Henry’s parents Michael (Brad Baker) and Veronica (Andi Allen).
What initially begins as a restrained meeting and quick agreement soon devolves into chaotic back and forth arguments that challenge the entire notion of maturity and keeping up appearances. Each role has a chance to shine and Mark Mullino’s talented cast doesn’t miss any opportunities.
Allen, whose Veronica is the one constantly trying to hold everything together, dazzles in the painful erosion of her domestic resolve. When she lets loose, it’s the most fun moment of the show.
Swearingen gives the otherwise most boring and cold character Alan a fun dimension by playing with gestures. That seems like a small thing to draw attention to, but it made all the difference in his performance. It was a clever way to spice up the icy Alan.
Baker is the folksy glue of the piece, and he handles it with great aplomb. He’s the everyman to the other three eccentrics, but like with his wife Veronica, he too starts by projecting a more cultured, civilized front that inevitably is worn down by insults and rum.
There’s something challenging about spending half a show with your head in a bucket, and Riggs makes it about as funny as it can possibly be. Her commitment to the grotesque physical humor is commendable and hilarious.
God of Carnage is insane in all the best ways. Reza is an immensely talented contemporary writer. And Our Productions executes the simultaneous complexity and insanity of her script with mad ebullience that leaves the audience in stitches.