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Review: God of Carnage @ Lichfield Garrick

From its pre-publicity I could have been forgiven for expecting Yazmina Reza’s God Of Carnage would top Herzog’s Aquirre Wrath of God in which Spanish adventurers exterminate complete civilisations or would exceed the Nuremburg Trials.

Instead I was presented with rather than confronted by a very funny domestic comedy concerning the social niceties of the British bourgeoisie and their discreet lack of charm under pressure, observable any day of the week down one of our local and let’s face it rather posh cul de sacs as catalogued in the innumerable comedies of Alan Ayckbourn. The result is a kind of Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party on acid. In other words, it’s us, with a wonderful script, and full of funny lines.

Beautifully observed, its swoops of language ring true at every point. As a simple issue about two lads falling out with collateral dental damage is debated between the two sets of polite parents the women abandon their traditional roles as mediators and the men’s bonhomie runs thin. The polite restraints of the first half break down delightfully in the second owing to a very good bottle of Scotch.

Following up a series of successful character portrayals Greg Spencer is impressively focused as international operator Alan, forced to put real life on hold as international affairs kick off big time.

Ian Parkes as his opposite number Michael has a mature grasp of human nature, alternately bluff then half-heartedly belligerent, domestic rather than go-getting man.

Mandy Davies is truly sublime, brilliantly cast as his wife Veronica who being used to social niceness doesn’t function well beyond it.

But Sarah Stanley steals the show as Alan’s reasonable wife who loses it first by vomiting and then by finding that twelve year old malt allows her to drop all façades and say what she really thinks.

Don’t miss it. This is a great comedy of manners in the style of Sheridan with lines that could easily have been written by Wilde.

God of Carnage runs in the Garrick Studio until February 22. For tickets phone 01543 412121 or visit

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