In search of an evening of hilarity, I set out with my roommates to the State theatre in downtown Ann Arbor to see Carnage featuring Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz. We figured we couldn’t go wrong with a cast like that. I also had a personal reason- Performance Network Theatre, where I am currently an apprentice, would soon be opening God of Carnage, the play in which the movie is based.
I had read the play already and knew what to expect so I was interested to see if the movie could still surprise me. Fortunately, it did! I was laughing harder than I expected and had an overwhelming sense of satisfaction as I left. In fact, even now, two weeks later, I still giggle about some of the great moments of the film.
Now I was presented with a new challenge: seeing the play. Would I find it equally satisfying? If not, how would I go about selling tickets and promoting the production? God of Carnage is a co-production with the Jewish Ensemble Theatre and Performance Network and the production team comprised of artists from both organizations had a very daunting task ahead of them—pleasing me-- post reading the play and seeing the film.
I entered the theatre on preview Thursday anxiously awaiting the (what I hoped would be magical) experience I was about to have. I had a good feeling because the cast is comprised of the very talented actors Suzi Regan, Phil Powers, Sarab Kamoo and Joey Albright. I also had my love for live theatre working in my favor, but I still wondered if I would be jolted and amused and brought to tears with laughter the same way I was with the movie.
The show began and I immediately found myself immersed in the characters. I already felt more connected to the lives onstage than I did in the movie or even when I was reading the play. So, as you can probably guess, as the story continued to unfold I was happily rewarded with a very intriguing, joyous, climactic theatre experience.
I think it says a lot about a theatrical production when it can really move somebody even after that somebody has read the story and seen the story unfold on the screen. I would have to say that the script works best on stage. I got more out of it. The arch of the story- the beginning, middle and end and all of the artistic choices were much clearer and better developed on the stage.
I would read the play again, I would watch the movie again (in fact I plan to purchase it) and I love that I am lucky enough to crack the door backstage every night and watch the performance at Performance Network unfold over and over again. It never gets old.