The Hippo


Oct 17, 2019








The cast of God of Carnage. Vick Bennison photo.

See God of Carnage

Where: Janice B. Streeter Theater, 14 Court St., Nashua
When: Thursday, Sept. 11, at 8 p.m.;
Friday, Sept. 12, at 8 p.m.;
Saturday, Sept. 13, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and
Sunday, Sept. 14, at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $15 general admission,, 978-228-5506


Savage parents
Grown-up bullying in God of Carnage

By Kelly Sennott

Any parents who have ever been a little overprotective of their kids may see a bit of themselves in M&M Productions’ rendition of God of Carnage, which premieres in Nashua this weekend. 
The modern play, originally written in French by playwright Yasmina Reza, took to London in 2008, Broadway in 2009, and has been performed by numerous A-list actors like Ralph Fiennes, Jeff Daniels, James Gandolfini and, in the 2011 film, Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly.
The M&M cast features actors Allan McPherson (as Michael Novak), Mari Keegan (as Veronica Novak), Laurie Torosian (as Annette Raleigh) and Michael Coppola (as Alan Raleigh). 
To set the scene: two couples in New York City are meeting for the first time due to unfortunate circumstances. The Raleighs’ son had hit the Novaks’ boy on the playground, and the aim is to have a civil discussion over dinner to settle matters. 
It’s clear to audiences very early that the couples are of different classes. Annette and Alan are well-off; Alan is a lawyer who’s constantly on his cell phone. Michael sells frying pans, and Veronica is writing a book about Darfur. 
What starts as a polite discussion about their sons evolves into a heated argument about who’s at fault for the schoolyard tangle, and then, into a childlike, destructive battle, with finger-pointing, name-calling and flying objects. 
“As the play progresses, it gets deeper and darker and meaner, until people just start attacking each other. Now the adults are acting just like the kids hitting each other on the playground,” said Mark Ferman, the play’s director.
For parents, it’s extremely relatable.
“I’m the mother of three boys,” Keegan said. “It’s about this whole bullying thing. One kid bullies another. … But what ends up happening with this group is that the adults end up bullying each other. I’ve been in circumstances where I see things like this happen, and it’s funny when you’re not involved in it.”
Even people without children will relate.
“I don’t have kids. But you could take the children out of it and still, the situations would be absurd and funny, and people would relate to the adults,” Coppola said.
Ferman said he liked the play when he read it, but even more so when he learned of its origin. Reza came up with the concept when she saw a tangle between her son’s two friends in 2005. A few days after the incident, Reza met with the mother of the injured boy and asked how he was. Her son was fine, but the mother was distraught, wondering why the parents of the other boy in the fight hadn’t called her.
Critics have said the play’s like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, had it been written by Mel Brooks. In addition to overprotective, overbearing parents, the play discusses misogyny, racial prejudice, homophobia and right vs. might, demonstrated by the parents’ eventual animalistic behavior. The word “savage” is used quite a few times, and at one point, Alan says, “I believe in the god of carnage. The god whose rule’s been unchallenged since time immemorial.” 
While God of Carnage has been produced in New Hampshire, it has not yet seen its southern tier, one of the primary reasons M&M wanted to bring it to Nashua this fall.
“I think everybody should see this play once. It’s going to become a classic. It’s already been identified as such,” Keegan said. “We always try to get in challenging new work, things people haven’t seen over and over again. It’s challenging to the actors and challenging to the audience.” 


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