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Los Alamos Little Theatre Presents ‘God Of Carnage’

on December 29, 2017 - 9:02am

By KELLY DOLEJSI
Los Alamos

Start the new year off with a bang — and a laugh — by seeing a Tony-award-winning play right here on the Hill. Los Alamos Little Theater will present “God of Carnage” at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays Jan. 12-27 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21.

Director Paul Lewis described “God of Carnage” as the story of two couples, who had not previously met, getting together to discuss “in a civilized manner” the consequences of a playground altercation between their 11-year-old sons.

Having raised two sons himself, Lewis said he identified with the characters’ attempts at decorum.

“You want to be fair and civilized,” he said, “but you can never really be impartial.”

Lewis said he first saw this play performed at a theater competition in Albuquerque in 2015, and appreciated that “this is truly an ensemble play with all four characters intensely involved, and on stage, throughout the entire course of the show. I love the complex interactions as conversation topics swing to and fro and ‘alliances constantly shift.”
“As the play progresses, it’s great fun to watch the characters behaving badly, in spite of their best intentions,” Lewis said.

What will audiences enjoy most about the show?

“Laughter. Laughter. And more laughter,” said Corey Steven New, playing Alan, one of the four parents.

New said the basic storyline of “the child getting punished, bullied, or picked on is nothing new. But handling the conflict from the parents’ point of view in a comedic way gives this story a new spin and a very funny take on an old storyline.”

Katrina Koehler, playing Annette, her fifth role at LALT, praised Yasmina Reza, the playwright, for “creating characters with complexity and a range of emotion. Annette is both timid and strong. She goes from composed to a drunk hot mess. I love getting to sink my teeth into a character who’s more than just a trope.”

In terms of what the audience comes away with, she hopes they recognize “the importance of words. The characters in ‘God of Carnage’ are never held accountable for their words. In today’s political climate, this is also a real problem. Disagreements often end in a similar carnage to that seen at the end of this play.”
Of her character, Tami Martinson said that “Veronica Novak, whose son was injured, has a definite agenda at the start. She’s a difficult woman to like but with each rehearsal I’m getting to understand what makes her tick.  She runs the gamut of emotions and gets to have her say whether anyone wants to listen or not.”

Martinson added that all four characters are pivotal to the progression of this play.

“It’s obvious from the start that there is more going on in this meeting than a discussion about their children,” Martinson said. “Who’s going to break down the walls of ‘civility’ first? How far will we take it? It’s a roller coaster ride building that tension.”

She said that in the working world, adults often “have to tamp down our emotions to avoid a confrontation. Be diplomatic so we can get the job done. I think most of us have all wished for that one time when we could let loose and tell someone off. There’s a guilty pleasure watching these characters get close to that moment. We’re wishing they would do what we won’t or can’t, but will they finally go over that edge?”

Larry Gibbons, who has portrayed many characters on the LALT stage, said each role has been interesting to him, and that the role of Michael is “by far no exception.”

“I believe there is much truth in David Mamet’s quote, ‘People may or may not say what they mean, but they always say something designed to get what they want.’ In ‘God of Carnage,’ this is very true for each and every character,” Gibbons said.

He said the play exposes “the lack of compromise, understanding, and empathy in negotiation” and “the possible deterrents to reaching powerful significant resolution when strong personal needs or desires become part of the process.”

“Will one laugh or cry because of being above or beyond such characteristics,” Gibbons said, “or will one laugh or cry because the characteristics are portraying the true nature of one’s self?”

The actors seemed as enthusiastic for LALT itself as they were for the upcoming production, describing LALT as a family.

Gibbons said the theater included “all the basic elements of a family: love together, help each other, tolerate each other, and, yes, have the occasional arguments and fights. Some stay, some leave, some leave and return, and some just become part of the structure always expected to ‘be there.’”

He added that there is a plaque that hangs in the entryway of the auditorium “commemorating those who will always ‘be there.’”

“There are consistently highly involved individuals in LALT and people like me who appear and disappear as the circumstances of life dictate,” Koehler said. “The LALT community accepts all of us.”

Martinson added that the theater includes many individuals off stage as well.

“There are many talented people that work behind the scenes as well as performing on the stage and they are all willing to share their knowledge. It’s a joy to be included in the LALT family,” she said.

Martinson has been a LALT volunteer on and off for 14 years, trying everything from props to makeup to stagecraft. She’s worked as the “unseen stage manager” for many productions, and this is her second speaking role at LALT.

New, who uses his theater degree to direct, write, and act, also pointed out that LALT isn’t just for adults.

“Personally,” he said, “it’s a place I can bring my kids to. They always enjoy helping out on the shows, even ones they are not allowed to watch! My youngest daughter helps me with makeup, props, scene-painting — and is now a actress herself. Hanging out at the theatre is always good fun.”

But LALT also offers a “solid ground to initiate, develop, and mature theater talents,” Gibbons said. “LALT is rightfully respected as a theater that holds high standards and is true to presenting high quality varied types of productions. Not every production will appeal to everyone but sooner or later a production comes around that strikes an interest.”

To find out more about what Koehler described as a “welcoming community of quirky individuals,” visit the Los Alamos Little Theater’s website at www.lalt.org.

“God of Carnage,” originally written in French, was first performed in English in 2008, in London. The Broadway production opened in New York in 2009 featuring Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden. It won Tony Awards in 2009 for Best Play and for Best Direction. All four actors also received Tony nominations, with Harden winning Best Leading Actress in a Play.

Roman Polanski directed a 2011 film adaption, shortening the name to “Carnage.” The film featured Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz. Lewis said LALT will be performing the American (Broadway) version of the play.

Tickets at $14 general admission / $12 students and seniors will be available at CB Fox and at the door 30 minutes prior to curtain. They are also available online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3207837.

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