The path leads from civil to war.
“God of Carnage,” the current production at Goshen’s New World Arts theater, chronicles a progression and a deterioration. The story focuses on two couples discussing a fight between their children. A veneer of politeness yields to increasingly barbed exchanges.
“We come together to resolve these issues about our children, and in the process we completely become worse than they were,” said Derek Bontreger, who has the role of Alan in “God of Carnage.” “We don’t improve things at all.”
Director Tony Venable said the show contains many different surprises and unknowns when it comes to relationships.
“Because the characters onstage, the two sets of parents, have their own internal conflicts,” he said. “There’s conflict with the parents because of the kids, and then there’s their own internal conflicts when it comes to their own relationships.”
Bontreger pointed out that his character doesn’t ever want to be part of the discussion much. Alan, an attorney, makes about 14 different phone calls throughout the course of “Carnage” — for Bontreger, it feels like being in two different plays at once.
Bontreger describes Alan as married to his phone and job much more than he is to his wife. And the legal trouble he could be getting into is more important than anything having to do with his son.
“God of Carnage” is an account of not altogether likable people unraveling. Bontreger, though, is having a better time than his character.
“For me, one of the things that makes this play so much fun to do is it’s such an ensemble where it’s just four people on stage the whole time,” he said. “We’re all kind of functioning as one entity, in a way. Where we’re cutting each other’s sentences off, and the topic of conversation is always being torn in a different direction.”
Venable said the actors in “God of Carnage” work off each other well.
“And I think that’s what makes it a really entertaining show, is because they can play off each other very well,” he said. “The chemistry that each of the actors have is very good. I was able to figure that out after the first couple of rehearsals.”
Bontreger said it’s interesting to watch the alliances shift in the show. Sometimes the parental units break down, with the men teaming up and the women joining forces and pitting against each other.
Bontreger also discussed the audience’s perspective, and the feedback he’s been hearing.
“...From quite a few people I’ve heard, ‘I’m constantly thinking what I would do in that situation, how I would react, what I would be saying,’” he said.
Venable also referenced the viewers’ investment
“The audience is going to think, ‘Maybe I’d do that, too,’” the director said. “The audience is always going to put themselves in the place of the cast member and think, ‘Wow, that sounds vaguely familiar.’”
The path leads from civil to war.
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