There is something about watching people just like us begin to unravel and shrink into desperation and desolation that demands our attention.
Whether it’s watching Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep in "Kramer vs Kramer," Michael Douglas in "Falling Down" or even "King Lear" where the man descends into an unrivaled madness.
That’s the attraction of "God of Carnage," the Yasmina Reza play serving as the first production of the new Umbrella Group. It opened Thursday night at In Tandem Theatre's 10th Street space and looked like anything but a brand new ensemble of actors.
Under the direction of veteran Bo Johnson, the cast of Libby Amato, Jason Will, Anna Figlesthaler and Matt Wickey melt down before our very eyes, each of them both sympathetic and horrid at the same time.
The married couple Amato and Will have gone to the home of Figlesthaler and Wickey to discuss the playground attack by their son on the son of Figlesthaler and Wickey that resulted in a bruised lip and two lost teeth.
The meeting begins like four civil people have a bit of a discussion. But it doesn’t take long for the first battle lines to be drawn. The first battle is sparked by parental protection, with each couple trying their best to keep their children from being dragged through the mud of accusation, although Will manages to call his son a "savage" between taking cell phone calls to handle a crisis at work.
As the discussion grows in intensity, Amato asks, "How many parents standing up for their children become infantile themselves." The answer in this play is every single one of them.
From the prim and proper opening moments to the increasingly savage meltdown, alliances shift and swing until everybody gets a chance to be angry and frustrated with everyone else in the play.
Part of this is very funny as each character is moved to ever more extreme behavior and language. But underneath the humor is the "God, I hope this never happens to me" river running through your blood.
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