Encore Michigan

‘Carnage’ at Wilde Theatre rocks and rolls

Review June 11, 2024 Julie Linderleaf

BRIGHTON, MI–How does a missing hamster, a pharmaceutical lawsuit, and a mom in the hospital have anything in common with two broken teeth and a forced apology? Judgment and guilt! 

God of Carnage at A Wilde Theatre in Brighton, MI, delivers a shockingly accurate exploration of the trials and tribulations of marriage and parenting, all wrapped up in a cloak of comedic connections. Throw in a side of judgmental social decorum and you have one heck of a night!

Yasmina Reza’s 2009 Tony Award-winning play, translated by Christopher Hampton for the American stage, pits two sets of parents into a steaming pot of chaos, sparked by a seemingly “kids be kids” playground altercation involving their children.  

The play delivers a shockingly accurate exploration of social decorum—or rather, the lack thereof—through the lens of two seemingly civilized couples navigating a conflict that quickly spirals into chaos. Under the direction of Julie and Bruce Michel, the production displays not only the writer’s sharp wit and biting humor, but also in its meticulous attention to detail, thanks to phenomenal prop and costume design also created by the Michel’s.

Al Pelky designed the elegant living room staged in the stylish home of the Novaks, played with a forced chemistry by Kevin Rogers and Libby Swor. The stage is a reflection of their seemingly perfect facade, adorned in matching blacks and whites. In a subtle contrast, the Raleighs, portrayed with equal fervor by Inchai Reed and Sean Sabo, bring a touch of discord with their tones of blacks and reds, hinting at the underlying tensions waiting to erupt.

These two couples meet up to discuss their sons’ recent altercation in a local park. Both couples, on the surface, try to hide their own struggles, but the longer the Raleigh’s stay, the more the truth of who they really are bubbles to the surface.  

What truly sets this production apart is the impeccable prop work. From actual food and beverages consumed on stage to dishes being moved, coats being put on and off, phones ringing, and hair dryers being plugged in and used, every detail is executed admirably, enhancing the realism and chaos of the unfolding drama. The actors masterfully navigate the myriad of props, adding another layer of authenticity to their performances. However, it’s worth noting, Reed’s portrayal of Annette may be unsettling for some audience members, particularly during moments of severe illness triggered by her husband’s constant distractions from his work life and cell phone.

As the 90-minute production unfolds and civility gives way to showcasing the struggles within, the cast delivers energetic performances that are as amusing as they are revealing, leading to a wild ride of accusations, judgments, and uncomfortable truths. Each actor embodies their character with depth and conviction, skillfully navigating the shifting dynamics of judgment and guilt. Each actor shines in their role, delivering powerhouse performances that elicit both laughter and introspection.

God of Carnage is an intriguing glimpse into the dark side of human behavior offering a sharp critique of societal norms while keeping audiences thoroughly entertained from start to finish. For theatergoers seeking a night of laughter and insightful reflection, God of Carnage is the show to see this summer. Catch it at A Wilde Theatre in Brighton, MI, before it concludes on June 14-16. 

Week of 6/17/2024

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