Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"Kids take over your life, then destroy it."

Last week, I went to go see God of Carnage with Brian and his parents.  When this play was first suggested, I was like wtf?  Why would I want to go see a play about gory violence and a god who approves of it?  With my in-laws?

But then my way-cooler-and-more-informed friends explained to me that God of Carnage, in fact, is neither a play about people massacring each other savagely in the name of God, nor is it a play about a god who approves of gory massacres.  It is, instead, a Tony Award winning masterpiece (Tony award nominations for all four actors/actresses, and three actual Tony awards -- best play, best director, and best actress for Marcia Gay Harden).  Quite deservingly a "hot ticket."  So hot, in fact, that Brad and Angie caught the opening night.  Of course, once I heard that it was approved by Brangelina a Tony Award winner, I was totally in.  We planned to grab a super fancy dinner at Patina (on my LA list!), and then head to the show.  The whole week in BarBri, I looked forward to this night celebrating the finer things in life.

And then everyone in L.A. and their mothers decided to drive east on Olympic exactly at 4:00pm.  I had 7 miles to go from my apartment to pick Brian up at his office in Beverly Hills, and guess how long it took me.  Just guess.  40 minutes?  An hour?  I mean, how bad could it really be, right?  ONE HOUR AND THIRTY-THREE MINUTES.  93 minutes.  That's an average of 4.5 MILES PER HOUR.  I would not joke about something so upsetting as this.  (I will skip the parts where I almost had a nervous breakdown/claustrophobia attack in my car.)

So dinner was cancelled.

BUT.  We did meet at the Edison instead for a drink and snacks, and it was quite nice, although no Patina.  I'd been to the Edison before and liked it, and I still liked it this time.  For those of you who are not familiar, it's a 1920's-themed bar that's built inside an old power plant.  It's huge, with big tall ceilings (as I guess you could imagine from the power plant thing), but it also has all these hidden-away rooms and tables that makes it feel intimate.  It's always kind of dark, and there's lots of red velvet involved, but not in a why-am-I-in-a-brothel type of way.  The drinks are good, the food is OK (they got rid of the bacon wrapped bleu cheese dates, sadly), and the waitresses are pretty and wear black sparkly dresses.  It makes you feel kind of fancy.

After our short snack, we headed to the Ahmanson.  This was my first time at the theater, and the first thing I noticed was how clean it, and the surrounding area was.  In SF, theaters are invariably located in the worst, most dangerous, and most odorous areas of the city.  But the Ahmanson was clean and nice and didn't even smell like urine.  So I liked it.

The show was...intense.  I had heard it was funny, hilarious, even.  The posters advertising it showed the actors and actresses smiling half-laugh smiles.  This is the description of the play on the Ahmanson website itself:

“God of Carnage" is set in a gentrified section of Brooklyn where two married couples meet to sort out a playground fight between their sons. At first, niceties are observed but as the evening progresses and the rum flows, the gloves come off and the night becomes a side-splitting free-for-all."

Side-splitting, eh?  Humor, I figured, was a reasonable assumption.  But I was still skeptical because, really, when was the last time you heard the critics of the dramatic arts get all excited about something funny?  Doesn't it take at least a war story, or a bitter divorce, or the death of a child, or some form of insanity to get them excited?  I shoulda known.

{Apparently there are plays that go on inside this round building that is next to the Ahmanson - how awesome is that?}

{nighttime reflections}

I shoulda known that after the first few minutes of comfortable laughter, the plotline would veer from a funny commentary on parents who take themselves too seriously and litigiousness taken to the extreme, to a cynical and depressing portrayal of the futility of marriage and inevitable dysfunctionality of family life in modern society.  I should have expected it.  It was like the time I went to see The Village by M. Night Shayamalan thinking it would be a mindless horror movie.

But don't take that to be any kind of a negative commentary on the quality of the play itself because I thought the play was brilliant.  The acting was outstanding, the writing was smart, and I was enthralled the whole time, even though it took place entirely in one scene, without an intermission.  (So that means it was really good.)  But I'm just saying, "side-splitting" is not the word I would choose to describe a play that brings up issues of alcoholism, depression, workaholism, immoral practices of pharmaceutical companies, the frustration of dealing with aging parents, spousal infidelity, [insert depressing symptom of our declining society here].  In fact, the two lines that resonate in my mind most are decidedly UN-funny: "Kids take over your life, then destroy it," and "We're all alone."

{fountains and City Hall in the background}

So basically, it was a hard play to watch for a newly married couple who still believes that their love is different, that they can have it all without losing each other, and that children are pretty accessories for grown ups to carry around.

But you should still see it.  Maybe not on a first (or 10th) date.

(P.S. if you've seen "God of Carnage" and you totally disagree with everything I just said about the play, you're probably right.  I claim no expertise whatsoever in dramatic-arts analysis.  Or any form of analysis, really.  Please feel free to leave a comment calling out my continuing ignorance.)


Anonymous said...

I think you're a genius.

Anonymous said...

your love is different

Anonymous said...

I love my "distroyed" life!

Ashley said...

Thanks for the positivity, guys!

Lisa P. said...

Lol wtf to the above??