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July 16, 2012

God of Carnage in RCBC Plaza, Makati City

The word ‘carnage’ is formally defined as “the slaughter or killing of a great number of people”. The very definition of the world itself makes you wonder how on earth it wormed its way into the title of a comedic play. Violence has no place in a story that is all about laughter and sunshine; common logic states that people simply don’t die—in large numbers, especially—in happy stories.

God of Carnage begs to differ, though. Expect to be slaughtered in the most ruthless way possible.

The story seems to be ordinary enough. A young boy attacks another young boy with a stick, causing him to lose two of his teeth. This incident becomes the core reason for the four main characters—the children’s parents—to interact, paving the way to a serious living room discussion that quickly grows out of hand.

The protagonists are variants of people we may have met or simply encountered at various points in time. The injured boy’s parents, Michael and Veronica Novak (played by foreign talent Adrian Pang and Tony Award winner Lea Salonga, respectively) are the hosts of the small gathering. Veronica is a writer who is a stickler for complete order and is deeply concerned with the ways of the world. Her husband, Michael, is a wholesaler of various odds and ends (locks, frying pans and even bathroom fixtures, to name a few) who is struggling to take a backseat to his obsessive compulsive wife. Of course, the so-called attacker’s parents have completely different personalities; Alan Rowley (Art Acuna from Kitchen: The Musical) is a wealthy, high-powered executive who is permanently glued to his mobile and has very little concern for the matter at hand. Annette, (renowned actress Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo) the other mother, is very emotional and seemingly flighty; her prim and proper demeanor is quite the excellent magic trick. With such a volatile cast of characters who all possess the temperaments of ticking time bombs, it was only a matter of time until all hell broke loose, unleashing the God of Carnage.

Because this is a one-act play with no intermissions, God of Carnage made use of a singular set with no changes in costume and very few changes in terms of props. This draws the audience away from the technicalities and more towards the characters and the script, which, might I say, is truly spectacular. You don’t have to listen too hard for the humor and the underlying hidden meanings; the actors deliver each and every word crisply, clearly and with believable emotion. I love how each and every element in the script served its purpose; mundane things like Veronica’s books, Michael’s mother’s medicines and a seemingly insignificant pet hamster all contribute to further ironing out the main plot.

It was a big treat for me to see Lea Salonga on that stage. I have been a big fan of hers for awhile now, so I jumped at the opportunity to watch her perform a form of art that she hasn’t immersed herself into for almost a decade. For someone who hasn’t been in a play for so many years, she did amazingly well. The same, of course, can be said for her equally fantastic co-stars. They were all so believable; the quirks and antics of their characters were all so spot-on. I do, however, have to give major kudos to Adrian Pang for his performance. I have heard stories from people who are or were once in relationships with obsessive compulsive partners, and I understand the struggle and the patience that comes with it. The way Adrian played his role is so commendable because his character is an excellent embodiment of the challenges these people have to face. Art was also a treat to watch; he has such a crazy barrage of lines because his character spends so much time on his mobile phone. He was playing the blunt, honest character—probably the only honest one—so I found him to be a very refreshing presence onstage. Menchu, being the veteran that she is, brought a certain fire to Annette’s tightly coiled up character.

What is most charming—and this is certainly an odd way to describe what I’m about to say—about God of Carnage is that it slaughters character in a good way. People, no matter how ordinary they may seem, always have something—a story, a person, a mask—to hide behind. The story of God of Carnage completely destroys those masks, leaving us to pick up the pieces to form a fragmented but new reality.

It’s something to think about.

'God of Carnage' runs from July 13 to July 22, 2012, at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in RCBC Plaza. Tickets for sale are Orchestra Center (P1,600), Orchestra Side (P1,400), Loge Center (P1,200), Loge Side (P900), and Balcony (P600). For ticket inquiries, please call Atlantis Productions at (63 2) 892-7078 or Ticketworld at (63 2) 891-9999.

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