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Review: God of Carnage

God of Carnage - a comedy by Yasmina Reza - is on this week at the Cambridge Arts Theatre.

God of Carnage. Picture: Nobby Clark
God of Carnage. Picture: Nobby Clark

Having read rave reviews and buoyed by the knowledge that the production starred Elizabeth McGovern (best known as the lovely Cora Crawley in Downton Abbey) and Nigel Lindsay (fantastic in Essex-based sitcom, White Gold and the Alan Partridge film Alpha Papa), I had high hopes for this award-winning play about middle-class parenting.

Winner of the Tony Award for Best Play and the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, the piece was written by Yasmina Reza, who also penned the excellent Art, which I saw and very much enjoyed at the Arts Theatre two years ago.

God of Carnage. Picture: Nobby Clark
God of Carnage. Picture: Nobby Clark

When 11-year-old Freddie hits 11-year-old Henry with a stick in a playground punch-up and knocks out two of his teeth, the parents meet to talk things over. But once the niceties are over and the drink starts flowing, it is the parents who turn into spoilt brats.

Along with all the plaudits and the considerable acting talent on display (Simon Paisley Day and Samantha Spiro, outstanding in Call the Midwife at the weekend, complete the very capable cast), the premise also sounded quite promising.

The set too - a chic, modern living space with nice touches such as coffee table books and fancy decorations - also captured the attention.

God of Carnage. Picture: Nobby Clark
God of Carnage. Picture: Nobby Clark

The problem was that I just didn’t find the play funny. I did laugh a couple of times but felt that it was trying too hard to be ‘edgy’, with one ‘gross-out’ scene in particular being not nearly as shocking as some audience members seemed to find it.

With a fairly short running time, God of Carnage did just about manage to hold my attention (a number of people, meanwhile, seemed to really be enjoying it) - and I did want to see how things panned out - but I can safely say that this is not a play I would ever go and see again.

God of Carnage runs until this Saturday (February 8) at 7.45pm, with 2.30pm matinee performances on the Thursday and the Saturday.

Tickets: £25-£45.

Box Office: 01223 503333 or cambridgeartstheatre.com.

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