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No Refund Theatre Presents: ‘God Of Carnage’

No Refund Theatre returns with the first production of its spring catalog. This week, the organization presents “God of Carnage.”

Written by Yasmina Reza and directed by senior Kathleen DeAngelis, “God of Carnage” tells the story of two married couples, Alan and Annette Raleigh and Michael and Veronica Novak, as they face awkward confrontation in the suburban jungle. Meeting to discuss a schoolyard fight between their two pre-teen sons, Benjamin Raleigh and Henry Novak, both groups are tested in patience by the touchy subject.

When it’s revealed that Benjamin struck Henry and cost him his two front teeth, the tension is palpable as the adults attempt to settle the dispute without losing civility. As the evening descends into chaos, each character’s true personality is revealed to the dismay of their partners. 

Alliances also quickly form and disintegrate between the four adults. While all characters are united by a common goal of wanting the best for their child, their differences crystallize quickly and expose a relatable theme: While we may fake pleasantries every day, a long night is sure to force some unmasking.

Bringing Reza’s work to the NRT stage, director Kathleen DeAngelis fell in love with the dramedy from the beginning. 

“I had a bunch of options to choose from,” DeAngelis said. “But this is the one I just kept going back and back to.”

As an elementary education major, DeAngelis loved the real-life application of the script, recognizing the underlying message of the parent’s struggle. When tackling this key pillar of the production in only three weeks, it was crucial DeAngelis found her perfect cast for the intimate setting. 

“It was a dream,” DeAngelis said. “The first time they did their callbacks, when it was the four of them, we looked at each other and were like ‘That’s them.’”

Working with assistant directors Jacob Malizio and Ryan Rosignal, DeAngelis also established trust with the cast during the process to tackle another challenge: working on the shortest production schedule of the club’s season. 

Luckily, rehearsals rarely felt like work and allowed time for the close knit group to enjoy the process.

“I have my best friend/boyfriend in the cast with me, and the other two are our really close friends,” NRT President and senior Sam Austin said. “Working with them has been a blast… We’ve had lots of laughs.” 

Made up by a cast of NRT veterans, the production is meant to challenge traditional masking of the emotional struggle.

“The show is a commentary on Western civilization. I think under the social norms, we are way less civilized than we pretend to be,” junior Jacob Malizio said. “This show exposes how one simple event can take away our civility.”

Furthering the idea of real humanity beneath the surface, the script features troubled adults navigating conflict without compromising their personal morals. Tension boils over repeatedly, illustrated by a standout argument between artistic author Veronica and her self-made, wholesaler husband, Michael.

“I feel like she’s just heartbroken,” senior Erica Love said. “The fact that her husband is attacking her for what she holds so near and dear to her heart is heartbreaking.”

As Michael berates his wife for her pretentious attempts to undermine their visitors’ parenting, Veronica drives the wedge further between the two. As the energy in the room switches, the other couple of the story, the Raleigh’s, also face a similar disruption as father Alan constantly takes calls throughout the disastrous evening.

“The significance of the cell phone is a constant reminder to Alan that there are bigger problems somewhere else,”  senior Nikolai Korbich said. “He’ll never take this problem with the children seriously because in his mind he has more important things going on.”

Directly objecting to his partner’s wishes, the character is another example of the story’s many ill-fated relationships. Suddenly, each partner can relate to their counterpart’s struggle, challenging the gender roles of marriage as their alliances pivot quickly in the fast-paced conversation. 

Noting this as a key element, DeAngelis put her own spin on the script to highlight the ever-changing dynamic through intentional staging across the set.

“I really wanted the couch to be people who were on the same side during that conversation and the armchair to be people who are separate,” DeAngelis said. “That’s why throughout the show people keep getting up and changing, and eventually, they all end up standing because they’ve turned against each other.”

Building upon the motion onstage, the play includes detailed props, sound effects, and even lifelike materials to achieve special effects. Combined with the original intention behind the 2008 script, a final theme concludes the play.

“Everybody likes to think that they do things the right way all the time, but none of us do,” senior Sam Fremin said. “The script really satirizes it in an effective and obvious way because we can’t function if we act the way that we often do.”

Three performances of “God of Carnage” will play at 8 p.m. on Thursday, January 19, Friday, January 20, and Saturday, January 21, in Forum 111. A trigger warning is emphasized for brief violence.

As always, all No Refund Theatre productions are free of charge.

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About the Author

Lizzie Palmieri

Lizzie is a junior majoring in marketing and psychology from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Ask her about Disney World, Diet Pepsi, or dancing on the Jumbotron at Beaver Stadium. When not causing general trouble, Lizzie enjoys playing golf, performing in the theatre, and being the CEO of reorganizing the fridge. Her favorite thing to do is hang out with her sassy sidekick, 18-year-old Italian Greyhound, Macaroni. Follow her on Twitter @lizziepalmieri if your deepest desire is bestie vibes only.

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