The God Of Carnage at Nuffield Theatre, Southampton

Katherine Ryan

REVIEW: Katherine Ryan at the Portsmouth Guildhall

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ANYONE partial to a bit of curtain-twitching and snooping on neighbours’ lives will be in their element at The God of Carnage.

Two couples come together to resolve a playground fight between their children, in which Ferdinand, the son of Annette (Miranda Foster) and Alain (James Clyde) has knocked out two teeth of Bruno, the child of Michel (Matthew Kelly) and Veronique (Tracey Childs).

At first Michel and Veronique are welcoming, understanding and liberal in their opinions about the scrap. But in just 80 quick minutes the scene disintegrates into recrimination, marital tension, arguments, and even underlying violence.

And, with just four actors on stage and in a play set in just a living room, the foundations of ‘civilised’ Western society are questioned. Among the weighty issues batted back and forth are themes such as whether children can outgrow their parents, and whether humans can act altruistically or are always motivated by self-interest.

It’s ambitious stuff and, while the play zips along, helped by some witty lines and set-pieces – bickering about men and gadgets, which concludes with the death of a mobile phone is particularly funny – and there is decent chemistry between the actors, the sheer number of ideas thrown out in the argument means some can feel rather skated over.

Until February 23.