Going Out: God of Carnage at the MRT

affiliate links picOnce kids come along it seems like a night out gets more minimal. Dinner. Movie. Super basic. 

I am here to encourage you to liven up your kid-free time. In Boston particularly we have an amazing theater scene. Right now you can go see the killer new production of The Jungle Book. You can laugh yourself silly at One Man, Two Guvnors(Links have discount tickets available, too. Lucky you!) There’s Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston playing LBJ in All the Way

Event Disclosure.jpgOr you can head on up to Lowell and see the Merrimack Repertory Theater’s production of God of Carnage. I was beyond excited when I found out this play was in the season this year. I’ve wanted to see it since its Broadway debut back in 2009. It made a big splash in the theater scene and won Best Play at the Tony’s. 

Technically it’s a comedy, but a very dark one. And I think the ideal viewer is a parent.

The play is about two couples whose children have had a fight. It got physical and now they’re trying to be civilized and address how to move forward.

Laura Latreille, Joseph Adams, Judith Lightfoot Clarke and Stephen Caffrey in God of Carnage. Photo by Meghan Moore.
Laura Latreille, Joseph Adams, Judith Lightfoot Clarke and Stephen Caffrey in God of Carnage. Photo by Meghan Moore.

It’s a simple setup, one of those situations a parent can easily find themselves in, and the kind of awkward encounter that is a necessary part of having kids. Being a parent, being a spouse, this is really what the play is about. Raising kids requires you to teach them how to be polite, how to be appropriate, how to act around other people. We teach by example, by being polite… even when you don’t want to be. And sometimes we’re not our best selves.

That thin line between being a civilized person and the things you really want to do and say is at the heart of the play. It starts as a discussion, moves to a squabble and somewhere along the way things break down and then break down again and you find yourself laughing and squirming as true colors start to come through.

Maybe you’re not anything like tightly-wound Annette or Bohemian Veronica. Maybe you’re not tied to your cell phone like Alan or terrified of your kid’s pet hamster like Michael. But you know these people. You’ve met them at PTA meetings and playdates. You’ve worked with them and gone out to dinner with them. So you will take a great deal of delight watching them devolve from their upper-middle-class lives into something more Neanderthal.

The play is fun and funny even while it exposes that dark instinct lurking beneath our carefully-maintained surfaces. It’s got a cathartic edge that will have you feeling awfully pleased with your own life and the fact that you haven’t engaged in any physical fights on the playground. The actors are fantastic in their roles, their wardrobes tell you all you need to know about them right away. The lovely, simple set caught my eye right away and told me exactly where we were. 

It’s my second show at Merrimack Rep and as a theater lover it’s been a wonderful experience both times. The actors they bring in are top notch, they pick a great variety of shows for the season and I’m definitely going to be a regular.

Oh, and as a side note, I highly recommend hitting the Iraqi restaurant Babylon just down the street from the MRT before or after the show. 


  1. says

    Thanks for reviewing this great play. I love it and all of Yazmina Reza’s work. God of Carnage is included in some anthologies I use with my students. It’s a real lesson in communication (a bit like your post below), not just for parents. I hope to get down to see it before it closes. The film version, Carnage, with Jodie Foster is great, too!(The play was originally written in French, and I thought it was funny how they change the dessert in the English version from clafoutis, which my kids call fruit pizza, to cobbler.)
    Paula recently posted..‘Tis the Season

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