A Hollywood film named Carnage released last year attracted a great deal of attention, thanks largely to an all star cast including Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet.
I have never seen this film, but this week I was lucky enough to catch Yasmina Reza’s play God of Carnage (which the movie stems from) during its run at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton.
This is the second time I have seen the play, having watched it a couple of years ago, and I was a great deal more impressed this time around.
The play is full of lively text but, being set entirely in one room, it relies on incredible acting.
The set itself is beautiful and symbolic, on a stage which seems to slope towards the audience as if to invite people in to become part of the action and which also seems to suggest something about the unstable characters upon it.
The story, for those unfamiliar with the play, surrounds the parents of two schoolboys who get themselves into a playground fight.
When Ferdinand arms himself with a stick and hits Bruno in the mouth, knocking out two teeth and damaging a nerve, their apparently respectable and very middle-class parents get together, resolving to sort the problem out.
Aside from the action between the two boys - who never directly appear on stage - the play acts as a magnifying glass homing in on each of the parents’ characters.
When the play begins, all is civilised and respectable but slowly the audience is shown more about the fractured relationship of each married couple and the hypocrisy of each individual person on stage.
The acting in this production is superb with each star successfully taking on everything from the subtlety of veiled smug looks shared between spouses when looking down on others, to the very physical action of projectile vomiting across the stage.
Former Cutting It and Emmerdale star Sian Reeves really becomes the star of the show as the apparently peace-loving and reasoned Veronica who is willing to leap at her husband and physically beat him with her hands at the slightest provokation.
Melanie Gutteridge also does a wonderful job playing Annette, who recovers from a vomiting fit only to find herself able to finally unload the hidden emotional bile she has been holding against her own husband.
The subject matter is serious but this can best be described as a hilarious black comedy, really brought to life by outstanding acting and direction.
God of Carnage continues until November 10. To book tickets log onto 01604 624811 or visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk.