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

February 11, 2016

By: Janee Law

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.

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