The Long Islander Review: Characters Unravel In Dark Comedy, ‘God Of Carnage,’ At Engeman Theater

February 11, 2016

By: Janee Law
jlaw@longislandergroup.com

The John W. Engeman Theater in Northport was roaring with laughter Thursday night as members of the audience witnessed the unraveling chaos between two sets of parents in the popular international comedy, “God Of Carnage.”

Written by Yasmina Reza, the dark hour and a half comedy that’s composed of a single scene is produced and directed by Engeman’s Richard Dolce, who incorporates intense energy and action into the show.

With only four actors in its cast, the play explores the internal and external struggles that couples face. The intense story of parents coming together to solve a fight between their sons reveals that the childrens’ problems are a reflection of their own.

At first, Alan (Chris Kipiniak) and his wife Annette (Alet Taylor) embody the overworked husband and passive wife, while Veronica (Nancy Lemenager) and her husband Michael (Mickey Solis) display characteristics of an overbearing wife and a submissive husband.

As the story unfolds, so do the characters. Roles begin to reverse as they push each other’s buttons and, when alcohol is added to the mix, the meeting spirals into madness as characters turn on one another, demonstrating ill-mannered, childish behavior.

The scene starts out with the parents stiffly sitting to discuss the situation between their sons. The play’s intensity is heightened by Veronica’s character; she takes notes as she paces back and forth, speaking in an automated voice.

Alan thickens the tense situation with his crude behavior, taking phone calls throughout the show, chomping down on his food like a savage and delivering the first of many f-bombs.

Displaying wide eyes, boiling faces and screaming in anger, Alan and Veronica demonstrate great chemistry acting opposite one another. Michaeland Annette are also similar in that both characters started out passive and become aggressive when pushed over the edge by their spouses.

The comic relief also grows as characters unravel under Michael’s sarcasm, Alan’s total disregard for others, Veronica’s quick wit and Annette’s childlike actions.

In the scene where they become intoxicated, Taylor, playing Annette, takes the stage in a dramatic performance as the drunken wife hysterically mocking her husband to show her frustrations.

Audience member Debbie Biggs of Greenlawn said that scene was one of her favorites because the actors were “hysterical.”

Another audience member, Cecily Frankum, said she loves “a dark kind of comedy.”

“It was a really good ensemble and they played really well with each other,” Frankum, of Huntington Station, said.

Chris Kipiniak, who plays the character Alan, said he enjoyed playing a character that’s unlike himself.

“It certainly is a lot of energy but… it’s a lot of fun to play a high energy character,” Kipiniak said. “It’s an excellent play. It’s nice to be working with people who are different than you and have a different style of working and I think that it makes it exciting. It’s been a lot of fun.”

“God of Carnage” runs at the Engeman Theater through March 6. Showtimes: Thursdays and Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Tickets are $59-$64.

NY Theatre Guide Review: ‘God of Carnage’ at the John W. Engeman Theater

Review: ‘God of Carnage’ at the John W. Engeman Theater
By: LORI SPEISER JAN. 31, 2016

God of Carnage, currently on stage at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, was written by Yasmina Reza, a French playwright, novelist and screenwriter. She is known for her satiric plays which explore concerns of the middle-class.

“The play is full of humor and great acting.”

God of Carnage is a four-person play about an evening in which two sets of parents gather to discuss how to handle an incident which took place between their young sons. While on the playground, one boy hit the other in the mouth with a stick resulting in two damaged teeth. This awkward situation opens with both couples behaving in a cautiously polite manner. The play’s tagline is “A Comedy of Manners, Without the Manners,” and as implied, the play endeavors to point out how easy it is for people to lose their civilized veneer. As the evening progresses, the conversation veers off course, their behavior deteriorates, and with the addition of rum, disaster ensues.

The play is well-written and cleverly moves the characters along their descent into immature, self-indulgent behavior. As they turn on each other, their loyalties switch along the way. At times it is couple against couple, women against men, then husband against wife. Their behavior should make your crazy relatives or neighbors seem well-balanced.

Along this downward journey there is plenty of humor. Some unexpected moments had the audience erupting in laughter. Physical humor, sexism humor and much more are spread throughout. As their behavior worsened, the comedy increased.

The four actors: Chris Kipiniak, Nancy Lemenager, Mickey Solis and Alet Taylor did an excellent job portraying their different characters. Their facial expressions and body language were animated, expressing thoughts beyond the words of the script. As lines were spoken, the audience was laughing before the anticipated humorous response could be spoken. Their timing was terrific.

Richard T. Dolce did a great job directing. Four people, one set, lots of movement making full use of the stage, deftly moving the actors from calm conversation to farcical chaos.

The play is full of humor and great acting. As it devolves into watching people tear one another apart, you might even learn something about yourself as you laugh at behavior that would disturb you in reality.

Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes. No intermission.

Advisory: The language throughout the play is littered with profanity

God of Carnage is running at The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, NY until March 6th, 2016. The theatre is located at 250 Main Street, Northport. For tickets, call the box office at (631) 261-2900 or click here.

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