By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com
Steve McKee and Nikki Heinrich (on the left side) match manners with India Osborne and Roger Owen.
With rocket-launched success, the Roadrunner Theater Company has come up with a provocative production of Yasmina Reza's mind-striping “God of Carnage” that rises several levels above the company's past shows.
Mark Klugheit as director has taken a quartet of Tucson actors to the pinnacle of their talent to create in 90 minutes the complete evisceration of two upper class married couples with children. This is an ensemble achievement in every sense of the word, a chamber quartet moving as one instrument,
Steve McKee plays Alan Raleigh the high-dollar lawyer who can't stop answering his cell phone to bark out more instructions for an associate back at the office.
Nikki Heinrich plays the carefully mannered and carefully prepared wife Annette Raleigh, working by day in “wealth management” and always determined to do the right thing...whether it is in the parlor or on the battlefield.
Roger Owen plays household goods wholesaler Michael Novak, who is at heart a plain-talking hardware store guy in a plaid shirt.
India Osborne is Michael's wife Veronica, a writer and art lover determined that he will take her to the cultural height she desires, with all the bells and whistles that are most in fashion.
The show takes place in real time when the Raleighs pay a visit to the toney Brooklyn digs of the Novaks. It seems like the Novaks' 11-year-old son has damaged two teeth of the Raleighs' 11-year-old son in a kid fight at a nearby park. It is also somewhat implied that the Raleighs feel sure their home is superior to the Novaks.
These two couples don't really know each other. Though we do feel the wives, at least, consider themselves to be equal flag bearers of political correctness and progressive sensitivity to the needs of those less fortunate (just so they don't have to talk to the less unfortunate or invite them home for diner).
Reza the playwright takes great delight in pealing off this foursome's layers of parental concern and maturity, adding a little salt to the wounds of injured pride and, finally, cutting to the quick of what's really eating at them all.
The Roadrunner company's players take great delight in presenting this dissection of intellectual pretense, shredding each other's capes of self-righteousness in the ebb and flow of verbal assault and defense, ducking and weaving, becoming increasingly desperate to get the upper hand.
We in the audience can sit back in confidence, knowing this cast will deliver blows that open up insight into our own conflicted lives. That is what makes this “God of Carnage” worth seeing.
Performances continue through Nov. 20. Curtain is 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, at APCOT Theater, 8892 E. Tanque Verde Road. Tickets are $24, with discounts available. For details and reservations, 207-2491, or visit roadrunnertheatrecompany.org
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