God of Carnage
Social Change or Meaningless Chaos?
When we talk about theater for social change, topics like race, sexism, war,
homophobia, and other hot-button social issues are the themes that dominate our conscience.
Those topics are the sorts of things that we associate with social change- the sorts of issues that
dominate our political rhetoric and dinner table banter. But it would be wrong to limit the
definition of theater for social change to productions that deal only with those divisive types of
topics. There are issues within our society that don’t garner as much attention but that still
persist without receiving the due consideration that they deserve. Among them is human
communication- the fundamental ways in which we as humans interact and form relationships
with one and other. The play God of Carnage seeks to scrutinize this topic by exploring the
interaction between two sets of parents whose sons got into a schoolyard fight. The chaos that
emerges from this situation challenges us to evaluate the realities of human communication
and the nature of its relationship with human nature.
I arrived at the Betts Theater to see God of Carnage with essentially no prior knowledge
about the play I was there to see. I find that it’s often valuable to go into a show blind, as you
enter without any preconceptions or biases towards the production. As I sat in my seat waiting
for the lights to go down, I began to evaluate the set. It was chic and modern. The floor was
painted in a way that made it look like a smooth concrete, giving the set a rather industrial feel
that has become popular in recent years. It was clean, pristinely so, and well decorated with
books, art, and modern furniture. The room had a lot of empty space, giving the set a very
“open-concept” type feel. The windows were angled with the slanting of the ceiling above
them, complementing the artistic atmosphere of the space. Before the play had even began, I
figured that this home was owned by stereotypical “crunchy” liberals.
Once the play began, my preconception was confirmed (or so I thought…). Veronica and
Michael were the crunchiest of liberals and stood in stark contrast with Anette and Alan.
Veronica was an artist and a writer, Michael a seller of household goods. On the other hand,
Anette was a housewife and Alan a big-shot corporate lawyer. Right off the bat, the audience
was faced with this contradiction between the two couples. One was young, artistic, and liberal
while the other was a typical representation of a traditional, conservative American family. As I
considered this contradiction, I immediately began to think this is a bit too good to be true.
Both sides seems too perfect- they were idealized representations of two different styles of
living. So, despite...