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ProArts’ ‘God of Carnage’ Brutally Entertaining

The timing is perfect, the gears mesh together flawlessly and everything works.

April 29, 2014
Paul Janes-Brown - Contributing Writer , Maui Weekly

ProArts has added to its string of excellent work with its latest production of "God of Carnage." The 2009 Tony and Olivier award-winning comedy by Yasmina Reza is being given a hilarious production by a cast of Maui's finest actors at ProArts Playhouse in Kihei through Sunday, May 11.

This little, way-off-Broadway house, consistently, in season after season, brings us high-quality work that has never been done before on Maui; "Driving Miss Daisy," "Doubt," "Bermuda Avenue Triangle," "Social Security," "And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little," and "The Play's the Thing," to name a few.

ProArts demonstrates that there is more on heaven, Earth and in the theater than musicals. However, it has produced musicals, too--but ones that are not tired retreads, including shows like "Urinetown" and "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee."

Article Photos

Don Carlson as Alan, Kisha Milling as Annette, Jennifer Rose as Veronica and William Makozak as Michael, civilly discuss their sons’ school fight in ProArts’ production of “God of Carnage” by Yasmina Reza.

ProArts Producer-Director Jonathan Lehman has a "Google" knowledge of theater, and he knows his audience. He understands not only their sophistication, but also their appetite for important and unique work that is both enlightening as well as entertaining. And he always delivers. There have been no disappointments at Pro Arts.

The results are all good for Maui audiences.

For example, Don Carlson, who trained at Carnegie Mellon and the Moscow Art Theater, worked for many years in New York and was last seen as the best Atticus Finch I ever saw, decided to return to the Maui stage to share his large talents with us in Gods as Alan, the corporate attorney with a "savage" for a son.

Another stellar actor, William Makozak, a professional film and television actor whose Macbeth remains vividly in my memory, signed up to work with ProArts, convincingly portraying milktoast, hen-pecked husband Michael, a purveyor of household hardware with a mortal fear of rodents.

Jennifer Rose, who consistently delivers excellent performances and successfully transforms herself, while fully embodying the playwrights' demands, is the nutty author-researcher, Veronica.

The incandescent Kisha Milling, the former L.A. actor who was so good in "Doubt," portrays Annette, a wealth manager with a queasy stomach and a budding felon for a son.

In short, the cast is a director's dream; seasoned, experienced, educated, talented and skilled. They work together like a beautifully well-tuned machine and the audience has a great time.

The play takes place in Brooklyn. Two sets of parents are meeting to discuss a fight between their two 11-year-olds. Alan and Annette's child was "armed," or rather, as the playwright corrects us, was "furnished" with a stick and has knocked two teeth out of Michael and Veronica's boy's mouth.

A meeting is planned to address the matter in a civilized, progressive and non-litigious manner.

But during the meeting, Alan, an attorney, is constantly interrupted by cell phone calls from colleagues trying to deal with a drug manufacturer client. Apparently, some patients are experiencing adverse drug reactions.

While the parents attempt to get to the bottom of their sons' antipathy towards each other, the couples bicker over a missing hamster, silly pet names (Woof Woof and Darjeeling), parenting, being male and female, and other prickly subjects that each couple uses in their battle against each. Their dispute starts at a simmer, but soon becomes a raging inferno.

The interplay between and among the cast is like watching a doubles tennis match in which the teams are constantly switching during the game. At first it's couple against couple, then it's Michael versus everyone, then it's Veronica versus Michael, then Alan against Annette--you get the picture.

The playwright misses no opportunities for conflict, and everyone has an equal opportunity to insult and be insulted.

As we watch the scene devolve from civilized tolerance to open hostility, the play-wright throws in every element she can, including racism, homophobia and Michael's mother, who, we learn in yet another phone conversation, is taking Alan's client's drug.

When Michael panics about it, Alan quips, "Well if she's taking it and she still looks normal, I'll use her as a witness."

Watching these four actors is like watching the inner workings of a fine Swiss watch. The timing is perfect, the gears mesh together flawlessly and everything works. The silences are as fraught and interesting as the actions and words. As they inhabit Caro Walker's stone walled apartment, tastefully furnished to reinforce the characters, they gradually come to a detente.

This is a great play performed as well as could be by the best group of actors seen on Maui stages in a very long time.

The play runs Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Thursday's are kama'aina nights. Call 463-6550 for tickets.



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