Monday, March 20, 2017

God of Carnage—Lakewood Theatre Company—Lake Oswego, OR

“Oh, What Webs We Weave!”

This dark “comedy of manners without the manners!” is written by Yasmina Reza and directed by Antonio Sonera.  It is playing at their space, 368 S. State St. in Lake Oswego, through April 9th.  For more information, go to their site at www.lakewood-center.org or call 503-635-3901.

“Are we ever interested in anything but ourselves?” one of the characters asks in this play.  And it seems to sum up, not only their state of being, but also trends that seem to be permeating our society at present:  Case in point, Selfie’s, the act of taking a picture of yourself and sending it on to others, could anything be more self-indulgent?!  Texting:  The act of typing a message to someone, instead of actually calling them on the phone, or visiting them, and speaking to them in person.  Video Games:  Playing on them for hours on end, instead of enjoying Nature or live human beings in the outside world.  The so-called progressive electronic age, instead of bringing people together, is actually pulling people apart.

And so it is in this story, in part, as Alan (Don Alder), the head of a pharmaceutical company, which seems to be on the shady side, is constantly on his cell phone, as a crisis is brewing all around him.   He, and his wife, Annette (Sarah Lucht), are at another couple’s home, Michael (David Sikking) and his wife, Veronica (Marilyn Stacey), trying to iron out a dispute regarding their sons.  It seems that Alan and Annette’s son, Ben, has knocked out a couple of teeth of Michael and Veronica’s son, Henry, for reasons not terribly complicated for kids but balloons into a major incident with the parents.

Some of the contributing factors in this pow-wow are, one of the characters gets sick on possibly some homemade food she had been served; a hamster, of one of the children, has been released in the wild, possibly to certain death; a drug that has been taken by Michael’s mother, might be tainted; some collectable items become soiled; and, the aforementioned cell phone of Alan’s, disrupt the proceedings.  What kids might consider part of growing up, is blown out of proportion by grown-ups to the point that they are tending to revert back to child-like behavior themselves.

But you need to see this for yourselves in order to appreciate/identify with (or not) those that should be our mentors/models and teachers of children, on how to behave as human beings.  “Lord of the Flies,” a book and movies of some years ago, traces a group of boys marooned on a desert island and, as time passes, how they emulate what they have observed of adult behavior, which is deadly and frightening.  “What you sow, so shall you reap,” might apply to both these stories.

This is an exceptionally professional cast, as all four of these actors have been active in the theatre arts for some years.  Like a roller-coaster, they traverse the bumping up and downs of marriage, parenting and relationships, railing against the gods for the fate life has dealt them but unable to lift one finger to help themselves.  These pros find the right balance of rage and silence to effectively play the scenes.  Alder, the self-absorbed businessman, having an affair with his phone (I’ve know many like him) is spot-on.  Lucht, as his luckless wife, a step way from despair, plays well the sadness in her life.  Sikking, as the seething volcano on the point of explosion, is super in his depiction of an unhappy man, possibly longing for a new start in life.  And Stacey, as his long-suffering wife, breaks your heart, as she sees the light in this darkness, amidst chaos, but has no way of reaching it on her own.

Sonera has chosen well his cast and together they have created a deceptively dark but slyly amusing production on how not to be an adult.  And, have to mention John Gerth’s simple but cleaver set, as it explains much about the characters in the set props and yet allows them plenty of room to explore their play-ground.  He is one of the best set designers in the Portland area and I’m always pleased to view his onstage artistry.

Oh, one word of warning, you may not want to be wearing any expensive clothing if you sit in the front row, but it depends on how far the…venom spews.  I do recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.