The play begins unremarkably. Two couples in a living room--strangers come together to discuss the fracas in the park between their little boys that left one with a split lip and two missing teeth. The tone is tensely polite. Imagine George and Martha without the booze, the madness, and the tragic history. These two couples in the stylish living room in Ms. Reza's play are civilized despite the dynamic that pits a call for justice against justification. One might wonder how this foursome will fulfill our expectations for a scintillating evening of theater, but it's right about then that the alliances onstage begin to shift. The parents of the boy who wielded the stick begin to wield their own weapons at each other, and in a dizzying escalation, the upset wife vomits all over the art books on her hosts' coffee table. The collective shriek from the audience will not be the last of the evening.
As the politeness behind the proscenium is pulled away like a restrictive necktie, the audience is forced to let its hair down, too. We can look all we want for a solid protagonist, but there's only whiplash waiting for us. By the time the booze comes out, we have loved and reviled each of the four characters, and we're not finished yet.
Reza examines love, marriage, the gender gap, parenthood, and the very nature of the human animal, but given the escalating antics onstage, the experience is more visceral than cerebral. I was too busy laughing to get a headache from thinking too hard.
The God of Carnage is at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis until August 7th, 2011.
It won a Tony in 2009 for best play.
I love this room. For me it embodies its setting--Minneapolis, Minnesota
where snow and ice are likely to be part of the environment half the year.
I took break from my home improvement chores the other day--an art break. The Walker Art Center is one of those museums I could go to over and over again. Iconic modern masterpieces. Surprising temporary exhibitions. This visit I spent almost all my time at a traveling exhibit called Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera Since 1870. Here's a quote from the Walker's website, "Exposedoffers a fascinating look at pictures made on the sly, without the explicit permission of the people depicted. Investigating the shifting boundaries between seeing and spying, the private act and the public image, the exhibition reveals the myriad ways photography has brought to light the forbidden and the taboo. Homing in on sex, celebrity, violence, and surveillance, it provokes an array of uneasy questions at the intersection of both power and pleasure."
There were photos from Brassai's series "Secret Paris of the 1930s." And more photos of people in Paris by Henri Cartier-Bresson. But I think one of my favorite parts of the exhibit was a series of photos by Sophie Calle, a French photographer, writer, and installation artist that I've written about HERE. The photos I just saw at the Walker are a project of hers called The Shadow. Ms. Calle had her mother hire a private detective to follow her for a day while she went various places in Paris that were personally significant for her. She wrote journal entries throughout the day, and these are included in the project, too She wanted photographic evidence of her own existence, she said.
The are so many significant days in a person's life. People and places that are like the sun to us as we revolve around them. Would we see them differently if we had a photographic record of them? Would we see something new? Change our minds about someone or something? What would that surveillance expose? Would it change us?
old hilltop villages, crumbling castles, chateaux with towers, pretty much any French food I've ever eaten, a Kir before dinner, red wine, meals that take forever, French kissing, French fries (known in France as les frites, French doors, window boxes full of geraniums, Truffaut, Colette, French lavender, topiary, those crazily over-designed French gardens, fabulous lingerie, Manet, Toulouse Lautrec, Odillon Redon...