The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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God of Carnage: a review

If you’re like me, as a child, small problems seem like the end of the world. Whether it’s not getting enough gold stars in class or getting cut in line, these issues seem so much bigger as children. But what do our parents think of these problems? Enter “God of Carnage,” Bucknell Theatre & Dance’s Winter Mainstage Production.

The play follows two sets of parents: Veronica and Michael Novak and Annette and Alan Raleigh, the parents of Henry and Benjamin respectively. Before the play begins, Benjamin punches Henry in the face and knocks out two of his teeth, causing the two sets of parents to come together and figure out how to settle their children’s dispute. As a result, chaos ensues. 

The production was a joyfully dark delight that explored the inner darkness of human nature to amazingly comedic effect. Coming from a background of writing, editing and enjoying satire, the production played into a lot of my interests. Much of this engagement comes from the actors’ abilities to bring these larger-than-life characters to life. 

Veronica Novak, Henry’s mother, was played by Joselyn Busato ’24. Veronica seemingly starts as a voice of reason, a person in the room who generally tries to avoid conflict and calm down ridiculous situations with some trustworthy clafoutis. However, as the meeting between the four parents progresses, Veronica gets more and more on edge and pissed off; it’s fun to watch, and Busato pulls off this transition effortlessly. For example, she goes from a calm, happily demeanored woman in the beginning of the play to an anger-fueled character who eventually leaps onto her husband in fury.

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Alan Raleigh, played by Reid Fournier ’24, was also a delight. Alan is an upper-class lawyer who is constantly on his phone and whose aristocratic and divisive (to say the least) attitudes cause the other characters frustration throughout the play. Despite its simplicity, the ongoing phone bit works deceptively well. The characters exhibit clear frustration with Alan for his constant phone use, but the audience too finds this irking as it constantly strays from the plot, furthering Alan’s unlikeability. Fournier plays the part with appropriate caricature, resulting in plenty of laughs from the audience. We all know an Alan, and Fournier does an excellent job executing the part.

Emma Olson ’24 did a great job playing the part of Annette Raleigh. Similar to Veronica, Annette comes out very calm and then slowly devolves into fury and vengefulness as the play goes on. The play’s domino effect of chaos starts when Annette throws up on the Novaks’ coffee table covered in rare first-edition books. Masking her anxiety with a calm demeanor, Annette’s character was complex to begin with. Adding in the layer of her ongoing illness resulted in an even more captivating performance from Olson.

Michael Novak is probably the calmest character in the play, and he is played by Kieran Calderwood ’25. While on the surface his character appears far less eccentric than the others, Calderwood was able to portray Novak’s chivalrous exterior, contrasted by his many internal flaws. The audience erupted into laughter despite his quieter, more reserved demeanor. The ongoing joke involving Michael and his children’s hamster was a favorite of mine in the show.

Other than the acting, the production design was great as well. The production team did an amazing job of placing the set right into the Novaks’ living room, giving the play the claustrophobic feeling that it needed. If the set felt too big, then the audience might feel less constricted, less stressed and less inside the characters’ skin. However, the set design worked well for the play and the story being told. 

On the whole, I really enjoyed Bucknell Theatre & Dance’s production of “God of Carnage.” The play, while seemingly simple on the surface, is an effective satire that also has enduring themes of human nature and fragility.

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About the Contributor
Aaron Chin
Aaron Chin, Arts & Culture Co-Editor

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