Watching a seemingly civilised discussion fall apart should not be as funny as it is in God of Carnage.
During Wick Theatre Company’s marvellous performance at The Barn Theatre on Thursday, I almost felt guilty laughing so hard at a situation that perhaps should not be funny at all.
Benjamin has hit Henry with a stick, breaking two teeth, and the two sets of parents have gathered to talk over the consequences.
Michael and Veronica Novak, played by John Garland and Sarah Charsley, have prepared a statement about the injuries to their 11-year-old son.
Alan and Annette Raleigh, played by Guy Steddon and Rose Hall-Smith, have been invited round for tea and cake and at the start, everyone is being very reasonable about it – or trying to be.
Local references were woven in, like Buckingham Park in Shoreham, Lancing Rec and the British Airways i360 in Brighton.
Already an intense situation, the meeting was made more so for both the actors and audience by performing it in the round.
Director Dan Dryer said this removed the artificial barrier of the stage and meant the actors could stand more naturally.
It is true the foursome moved more fluidly than they would have on a stage facing forwards, so we watched as if from a bird’s eye view on a real living room, and it made it more intense for them, as they were so very close to the front row seats.
That close proximity may have been the reason for the few stumbled lines, though these minor mistakes did little to affect the overall sense of brilliance in the performance.
Sarah stood out for her performance as the arty mother who likes to be in control. Sarah was definitely in control of the part even if the character Veronica was not as in control as she appeared! The more reasonable Veronica was trying to be, the more unreasonable she became.
Wick stalwart John took on a bigger part that usual and was impressive as the apparently mild-mannered Michael who turned out to be a bit of a bully himself.
Guy, another Wick stalwart, is known for his big performances but was reasonably restrained at lawyer Alan, which kept the balance perfect.
Rose gave a strong performance as Annette and her temper tantrums when she drowned her husband’s phone and ripped up the tulips were a joy to behold.