Watching a benign meeting between two couples devolve into utter chaos is morbidly fascinating; recreating such an anarchic-yet-nuanced evening is much harder than it looks. Sixth Former Owen Pickette is tasked with directing Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage, wherein two sets of parents meet to resolve a conflict between their young children. Doing justice to the riveting one-act play involves capturing the devolution of four adults from a civil conversation to vomit and childish barbs. The cast of four is under constant audience scrutiny, with every cast member on stage at all times, and Pickette understands the importance of every little detail to the success of the production. “Whether we’re talking about how to make realistic-looking vomit or how to orient each member of the cast as they lash out at one another,” he states,” there’s a lot that goes on for a play in such a seemingly simple setting.”
To tackle this monumental work, serious acting chops are required of a four-person, two-couple cast, and Pickette has the objective cream of the crop with which to work. Theo Why plays Alain Raleigh, a lawyer whose disdain for the situation and whose dedication to his cellphone are expertly conveyed by the experienced Sixth Former; Dana Hall senior Loulou Taylor plays concerned mother Annette Raleigh and tackles the character’s visceral reaction to the stressful situation with energy and skill; Henry Vettel ‘18 plays Michael Novak, a passive wholesaler with a few controversial passions that the actor simultaneously portrays with dryness and passion; Katie Gardner, Dana Hall ‘18, plays the high-minded Veronica Novak and skillfully captures the irony of the character’s naivete, preaching the “art of coexistence” in a play that forsakes it entirely. Pickette’s direction ties the whole fiasco together into a tale of majesty, cruelty, chaos, and balance; as the quartet travels from unity to division to solitude, it becomes clear that the dark side of human nature matches civility blow for blow. Masterfully directed and acted, God of Carnage will be shown in the Kraft Theater at 7:00 pm on March 2nd and March 3rd, with an open dress rehearsal at 5:30 pm on March 1st. Don’t miss it.