5 things to know about 'God of Carnage' at American Stage

God of Carnage stars, from left, Katherine Michelle Tanner, Billy Edwards, Cathy Schenkelberg and Brian Shea.

Photo by Chad Jacobs

God of Carnage stars, from left, Katherine Michelle Tanner, Billy Edwards, Cathy Schenkelberg and Brian Shea.

The setup: A couple of kids have just gotten into a playground skirmish involving the extraction of teeth. Now their parents must get together and try to work it out like mature, civilized adults with jobs and manners and common sense. What could possibly go wrong? � Enter God of Carnage, Yasmina Reza's play about parenthood, and what happens when the people in charge are pulled evermore to childlike destruction, opening Friday at American Stage in St. Petersburg. This contained, four-person play just might surprise you in a handful of ways. � Intrigued? Here are five things to know about God of Carnage before you go.

1

It's a comedy

No, really. Despite a title that makes it sound like an epic Jean-Claude Van Damme action movie, God of Carnage is full of wry laughs. "It's situational black humor," director Karla Hartley said. "There are some very funny moments in it, but it's humor that's derived from real life. In our lives, if we get out of control with something, we will say and do stuff that we look back and think, 'What was I doing?' There's a lot of physical comedy in it as well."

2

English is not its first language

The play was originally written in French (Le Dieu du Carnage) and was translated into English in 2008 for a London production. It was tweaked for American audiences and came to Broadway in 2009.

3

The script draws the stars

The casts of God of Carnage have boasted some big Hollywood names over the years, including Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Christine Lahti, Jimmy Smits, Annie Potts, Ralph Fiennes and most recently, Lucy Liu in her Broadway debut. The American Stage production stars local actors Billy Edwards, Brian Shea, Cathy Schenkelberg and Katherine Michelle Tanner.

4

It also draws the awards

Three Tonys to be exact, including best actress in a play for Marcia Gay Harden. The British production also won the Laurence Olivier Award for best comedy.

5

It was a movie . . .

… except it was called simply Carnage. Embattled filmmaker Roman Polanski directed the 2011 adaptation, set in Brooklyn but filmed in Paris (Polanski is a fugitive from U.S. authorities due to a criminal conviction for having sex with a minor). It stars Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet. It got mixed reviews, so maybe it's good you're going to see the play.

Contact Stephanie Hayes at shayes@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8716. Follow @stephhayes.

If you go

God of Carnage

Opens at 8 p.m. Friday with a reception ($59), with shows at 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Wednesday. Preview at 8 tonight ($29). Runs through Aug. 10 at American Stage's Raymond James Theatre, 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. $39-$49. americanstage.org. (727) 823-7529.

5 things to know about 'God of Carnage' at American Stage 07/15/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 4:38pm]

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