Exploring the greatest new and classic plays


God of Carnage

by Yasmina Reza

Directed by Nicholai La Barrie

Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, London

September 2023

Dinita Gohil as Annette and Freema Agyeman as Veronica at the Lyric Hammersmith.
Photograph: The Other Richard

The show that Jodi and I are reviewing today is God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, which is playing at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith in West London. The play, written in French and translated by Christopher Hampton, had its English language debut in the West End back in 2008. The play followed Reza’s earlier play Art, which was a worldwide hit in the 1990s, being translated into 30 languages and winning Olivier and Tony awards. God of Carnage was similarly a popular and critical success, reprising the Olivier and Tony awards, and in 2011 the play was also turned into a movie, Carnage, directed by Roman Polanski.

So, Reza and the play come to the Lyric with a stellar CV. This revival is directed by the Lyrics’s Associate Director, Nicholai La Barrie, and the four-handed cast includes Freema Agyeman, who is perhaps best known as Doctor Who’s companion Martha Jones.

The action of the play all takes place on one afternoon in the elegant living room of a cultured middle-class couple, where they have invited another couple to come to discuss an incident that has occurred between their respective 11-year old sons, one of whom has hit the other in the mouth with a stick, breaking two of his teeth. The parents of the victim want to understand what provoked the attack, and to explore what action could be taken by way of resolution.

The play is a comedy of manners, or perhaps more accurately of no manners.


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