Roland’s Strong Direction Makes Up for (Some of) the Shortcomings in Reza’s “God of Carnage”

The all-star cast for the Hot Summer Nights | Theatre Raleigh presentation of "The God of Carnage" includes (from left) Julie Fishell, Derrick Ivey, Michael Tourek, and Dana Marks
The all-star cast for the current production of “The God of Carnage” includes (from left) Julie Fishell, Derrick Ivey, Michael Tourek, and Dana Marks

It’s been said that children imitate what they see, a truth made all too real by Yasmina Reza’s “God of Carnage.” Reza’s quick, snappy little play, originally written in French, focuses on two sets of polar-opposite parents—seemingly disconnected and disaffected Annette and Alan Raleigh (Julie Fishell and Derrick Ivey) and seemingly uptight and put-together Veronica and Michael Novak (Dana Marks and Michael Tourek)—who have come together because the Raleigh’s son, Ben, has beat up and “disfigured” the Novak’s son. What starts as stilted and awkward but still polite conversation about the unfortunate event quickly unravels into a drunken, raging all-out war between these two couples in Richard Roland’s charmingly directed production for Theatre Raleigh’s Hot Summer Nights series.

The story clips along at a steady pace, slowly getting crazier and crazier as the veneer of civility comes down and the true natures of the characters are revealed. There is some onstage vomiting, delivered hilariously by Fishel, and some talk of an abandoned, defenseless hamster that, like the unseen children in this story, has been left to do the best it can with its less-than-ideal environment, and while the show is fun, even bordering on deep at times, something appears to either be lost in translation or Reza’s characters just don’t make an impression the way they should.

Though Roland and the fine cast do an excellent job with the material and, indeed, bring it to life more fully than other productions have done, the fact still remains that the characters are inconsistent, unidentifiable, and unrealistic. With that said, however, Reza’s play did win a Tony award for “Best Play” in 2009, so some might find merit and enjoyment here.

Any faults that do exist cannot be blamed on this nicely staged production which includes plenty of pops of color and interesting movement to break up the conversational monotony. In fact, whenever the conversation borders on boring, Roland has the characters moving around or making haphazard gestures—anything to keep the show alive and the story moving. Though not a perfect play, it is done well here, making it worth a watch.

Hot Summer Nights | Theatre Raleigh presents THE GOD OF CARNAGE at 8 p.m. June 21, 3 p.m. June 22, 8 p.m. June 26-28, 2 and 8 p.m. June 29, 3 p.m. June 30 in the Sara Lynn and K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $25 ($22 students, seniors, and active-duty military personnel).

BOX OFFICE: 866-811-4111 or

GROUP RATES: 919-480-5166.

SHOW: and


Hot Summer Nights:

Theatre Raleigh:





The God of Carnage (2006 play): (Faber and Faber), (Wikipedia), and (Internet Broadway Database).

The Script: (Google Books).

Yasmina Reza (playwright): (Wikipedia).

Richard Roland (director): (official website).

By Susie Potter

Susie Potter is a 2009 graduate of Meredith College where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina Statue University. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. For more information visit