God of Carnage

Land of Punt noticed that during her acceptance speech at the Tony Awards, playwright Yasmina Reza, author of God of Carnage, had a French accent. Then LOP learned that Reza has a French accent because she’s French.

It struck us as odd that a French woman’s play, obviously performed in English, would win the Tony Award for Best Play. Most native English speakers can’t write a Tony Award winning play but a French woman was able to write an award winning work in a foreign tongue?

The irrepressible cast of God Carnage (from left to right)

The irrepressible cast of God Carnage: (from left to right) Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden.

Then we later learned that the God of Carnage was originally written in French (Le Dieu du Carnage) and translated into English by Christopher Hampton. Before that it was translated into German—in fact, the play debuted in German.

Needless to say we were a little disappointed. However, this makes sense. It would be extremely difficult for anyone to write an award winning work in their second language.

We just wish the producers of the Tonys would have mentioned that fact or allowed the translator to say a few a words—after all, LOP believes the translation of a work from one language to another is almost as important as the original work.

So now the question remains, do we still say it’s a well written play or do we say it’s a well translated play?

God of Carnage was irst directed by Jürgen Gosch and performed in Zürich on 8 December 2006

God of Carnage was first performed in Zürich on December 8th, 2006. It was originally directed by Jürgen Gosch.

We digress. Don’t let our fascination with language distract you from this wonderfully poignant and funny play that wins Tony Awards and sells Broadway tickets.

Currently playing at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre, God of Carnage has an absolute dream cast of Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden. All four were nominated for best actor with Harden actually taking home the hardware.

Besides winning Best Play, Matthew Warchus won a Tony for Best Direction. He was also the director of the award winning West End production.

The show was originally scheduled to end July 19th but it’s been extended through November 15th, 2009. The show will temporarily close from July 27th through September 8th as the cast and crew go on summer holiday.

God of Carnage opened in the West End at the Gielgud Theatre on 25 March 2008. The original cast featured Ralph Fiennes

God of Carnage opened in the West End at the Gielgud Theatre on March 25, 2008. The original cast featured famous film actor Ralph Fiennes.

God of Carnage tells the story of two sets of parents, Alan and Annette Raleigh (Daniels and Davis) and Michael and Veronica Vallon (Gandolfini and Harden) who meet to discuss a fight that took place between their two sons. Alan and Annette’s son broke two of Michael and Veronica’s son’s teeth.

After the couple exchange pleasantries, and drinks, their supposedly diplomatic meeting turns into a no holds barred verbal brawl. The couples get into a series of arguments about everything from misogyny to racial prejudice to homophobia to Darfur. That is until their vicious barbs and their snappy comebacks decimate each other’s liberal values.

The reviews for this masterpiece, as you might expect, have been overwhelming positive. Yet, there has been some negative feedback. A few critics have complained the play lacks the length, depth and breadth to sufficiently address and resolve the myriad of issues it addresses.

While the criticisms are duly noted, the strength of this work isn’t its resolution but its resonance. After all, this play has been successful in three different languages and four different countries. Obviously, God of Carnage has universal appeal.


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