By Laura Hayes
The Furman Theater Department has always been known for its great renditions of productions, and “God of Carnage” was no different. The English translation of the French play by Yasmina Reza kept the full audience in the Playhouse engrossed with constant clever quips and comebacks by the student actors Sam Feigenbaum, Jess Pinaire, Drake Shadwell and Sarah Cushman.
The play is set in a simple, modern-day living room where the two couples have met to discuss a fight between their 11-year-old children, Benjamin and Henry. Benjamin, the son of Alan (Drake Shadwell) and Annette (Sarah Cushman), hits Henry, the son of Michael (Sam Feigenbaum) and Veronica (Jess Pinaire), in the face with a stick after Henry refused to let him join his “gang.” The action knocked out Henry’s teeth and, according to his parents, has been causing him a lot of physical and emotional harm. The meeting starts out civil with the couples agreeing on a statement of what happened and engaging in small talk. However, one thing leads to another, and quickly the behavior of the adults becomes childish and dissolves into chaos.
Each character’s unique personality contributes to the tension between the couples. Alan, an acclaimed lawyer, is constantly on his cell phone with clients discussing a case regarding a pharmaceutical drug. Annette gets fed up with her husband to the point that she vomits all over Veronica’s prized art books. Veronica, who regards her opinion as the only valid one, gets involved in various arguments over her husband killing their daughter’s hamster, her ability to speak with Benjamin about his actions and whether or not she has a racial prejudice in her interests in Darfur.
Despite their arguments, the characters also come together at various points during the evening, usually against one another. After helping themselves to a decent amount of Michael’s rum, Annette and Veronica, who both come to terms over the stupidity and cruelty of men, team up against their husbands. Annette slips Alan’s cellphone into the water of the flower vase, forcing him to pay attention to what is happening in the room and causing her and Veronica to have fits of laughter over Alan and Michael’s desperate attempts to revive the cell phone. “Men,” Annette slurred “are always sooo obsessed with their electronics.” Michael and Alan also unite under the unfairness of their wives and consume a fair amount of rum in the process.
The scene culminates in both the couples getting into personal arguments around their marriages and Annette hitting her husband in fury with a bunch of tulips. Her actions cause the couples once again to debate which one of their children started the argument that caused them to gather that afternoon. Finally, Michael concludes by asking “What do we really know?” In doing so, he affirms both of the couples’ lack of verified knowledge as to the cause of the conflict that joined them in the first place.
“God of Carnage” will be showing in the Furman Playhouse through Nov. 21. All shows are at 8 p.m.