Alysabeth Clements Mosley, artistic director of the Star Bar Players, describes God of Carnage as Dinner With Friends meets Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
The dialogue is "very smart, sharp, crisp and dynamic," and the characters are "gorgeously drawn and they're just all kinds of crazy," she says. Only they aren't crazy, really — they're just sort of neurotic, smug, liberal parents who pick a bad time to drink a little too much rum.
The action of the character-driven play, written by Yasmina Reza, begins with a fight. One child hits another in the face with a stick, breaking two of his teeth, and the parents meet to discuss the altercation between their two sons. The parents attempt to resolve the problem peacefully, but their interaction quickly crumbles.
The couples start out thinking, "'Of course we can work things out,' and later they're screaming, 'I don't give a shit!'" says Clements Mosley.
Miriam Roth Ballard, who plays the mother of the son who wielded the playground weapon, says her character runs the gamut of emotions, from kindness and acceptance to despair and hostility. The entire play takes place in the small, intimate space of a Brooklyn apartment, and she says tapping into so many different feelings without an intermission break is as challenging as "running a marathon."
Both the original French version of the critically acclaimed dark comedy and its English translation — which debuted in London in March 2008 and opened on Broadway a year later — have been well-received. God of Carnage was performed more than 450 times on Broadway and won a Tony Award for Best Play and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. A film adaptation directed by Roman Polanski was released last year with the shortened name, Carnage.
Star Bar's production is the Colorado premiere of the play, notes Clements Mosley, and has only recently become available for small companies.