November 23, 2012
God Of Carnage - 22 November, DBS Arts Centre
My greatest regret is not catching this play much earlier, so I could've posted a review within a week of its opening, instead of 2 days before it ends its run.
It is, without a doubt, the BEST play I have ever seen. :)
I'm no expert, of course. Many of my fellow bloggers are way ahead of me in theatre appreciation, but I've seen my share of local and American productions, including a few star-studded ones on Broadway ( i.e. The Submission with Jonathan Groff, Cyrano de Bergerac with Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner ).
God Of Carnage beats them all.
Having already watched Roman Polanski's terrific film adaptation - which features Oscar winners Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz - I admittedly had reservations about this cast's abilities to match, never mind outdo, such heavyweights.
Imagine my surprise and immense delight when Lea Salonga, Adrian Pang, Art Acuña and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo pulled it off effortlessly, bringing the house down with their incredible and hilarious performances.
hikaru provided a synopsis of the plot in his review below, so allow me to focus on the actors.
The first time I saw Lea Salonga was on a televised recording of the Royal Variety Performance, an annual gala concert attended by the British royal family. It was a really long time ago, when she won rave reviews for her leading role in Miss Saigon. Years later, she provided vocals for one of my favourite Disney movies, Aladdin.
To be honest, I never once thought I would see her in person, up close ( 4th row centre ). It was surreal!
While she didn't get to show off her world-renowned vocal ability, her portrayal of Veronica - a seemingly sweet and harmless writer who gradually reveals her inner control freak, culminating in a physical assault which many will count as a major highlight - was riveting.
I had no idea she was capable of spewing lines with such venom. I relished every moment! :)
Art Acuña and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo also impressed as Alan and Annette, a power couple whose facade of sophistication and marital content soon crumbles when they're forced to confront their long-festering problems.
Lauchengco-Yulo no doubt stole the show during THAT projectile vomiting scene, which induced quite a few loud screams from the audience, and put a huge smile on my face. ( Hey, remember I saw the movie and knew this was coming? It's a million times better 'live', heh! :))
Question to the cast: was it a fruit juice mixture with pulpy bits? It looked perfect! :D
My personal favourite, though, is still Adrian Pang, who plays Veronica's hapless husband, Michael. He didn't necessarily have all the best lines, but his talent for physical comedy is tremendous. This is only the second time I've seen him on stage, but I do note similarities between Michael and Buddy Ackerman, whom Adrian played so brilliantly in Swimming With Sharks. The mocking tone and body language are major crowd pleasers!
So why, you ask, is God Of Carnage the best play I have ever seen? The source material is, of course, key to its success. Yasmina Reza's sharply worded masterpiece ( translated into English by Christopher Hampton ) is the true definition of a roller coaster ride, albeit one that lasts approximately 90 adrenaline-pumping minutes. The momentum shifts dramatically at varying intervals, power dynamics change at dizzying speeds, civilized conversations turn into savage battles in the blink of an eye - it's enough to cause a heart attack!
However, it is equally remarkable that a production which features no set or costume changes, no gimmicks, and rather dry subjects, manages to be so entertaining.
It is a testament not only to the playwright and the director, Bobby Garcia, but ultimately, to the superb actors, who demonstrated scorching chemistry all round, bared their souls on stage, and executed their roles flawlessly.
You didn't just outshine Hollywood stars, you gave Oscar winners a run for their money as well.
BRAVO! 5/5! :)