God of Carnage is an exacting dissection of bourgeois veneer and wandering morals (4 stars)

God of Carnage is an exacting and enjoyable dissection of bourgeois veneer and wandering morals

credit: John Johnston

Lorraine McIntosh and Anita Vettesse are both outstanding in Gareth Nicholls' production of the award-winning comedy

The suburbs dream of violence. Yazmina Reza's award-winning play, directed by Gareth Nicholls at the Tron, sees two sets of well-to-do parents trying very hard to do the 'right thing' following a playground spat between their respective sons. God of Carnage forensically unpicks the layers of hollow bourgeois artifice, but this production doesn't quite balance the play's humour with its barbarity.

The solemnity of the Reilles, the highly-strung power couple played by Lorraine McIntosh and Richard Conlon, is met by the laid-back liberal spirit of the Vallons, played by Colin McCredie and Anita Vettesse. Some epic stress-induced projectile vomiting fractures their illusions of power and liberalism, and the veneer of civility begins to fade, laying bare marital problems and moral vacuity. Allegiances within and between the couples switch quickly, and McIntosh and Vettesse are both outstanding in their depiction of complex, fiery, intelligent female characters.

From the outset, Karen Tennent's playful and intelligent set hints towards future disquiet; the Vallons' high-ceilinged, immaculately furnished drawing room is surrounded on three sides by a brightly coloured ball pit. As the tension between the sparring couples escalates, so too does the physical tension in the space: the ball pit comes to signify the suppressed chaos that exists just under the surface, that all of them are working so hard to disguise.

Nicholls is astute and precise in his directing, but has perhaps overlooked the darker, more savage tones in the denouement of the play in favour of all out slapstick. The play escalates so exponentially quickly that in the aftermath of ball pit tantrums, amidst destroyed flowers and upturned furniture, there is the same moral gap that the play sets out to challenge. In spite of this, God of Carnage is an exacting and enjoyable dissection of bourgeois veneer and wandering morals.

Tron Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 25 Mar.

God of Carnage

A comic character study of middle class pretence and savage parental instinct. God of Carnage won the Tony Award for Best New Play and Olivier Award for Best Comedy (2009).