Bad behavior good for laughs in ‘God of Carnage’
By Myrna Petlicki Contributor February 7, 2013 1:46PM
Susan Steinmeyer, Martin J. Hughes, Ellen Cribbs, and Michael Stock star in “God of Carnage” at Citadel Theatre. | Photo by Less Boyd
Citadel Theatre Company, 300 S. Waukegan Road, Lake Forest.
8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays,Feb.8-March 10, plus Wednesday matinees, 1 p.m. Feb. 20 and March 6.
$37.50, $32.50 for students and seniors.
(847) 735-8554; citadeltheatre.org.
There’s a simple reason why Wayne Mell wanted to direct “God of Carnage” for Citadel Theatre Company. “It’s all about parents being children,” he said.
Yasmina Reza’s hilarious comedy focuses on two sets of parents who are meeting to discuss a playground disagreement between their sons. Things quickly get out of hand, something to which Mell can relate. “There is nothing that will make me go from zero to nuts faster than to think that my child was being abused,” the Deerfield resident admitted.
Wilmette resident Michael Stock plays Michael (he says, it’s easy to remember his character’s name), whose home is the meeting place/battleground for the parents. “My 11-year-old son was hit on the playground by their 11-year-old son,” Stock related.
The actor noted that when he first studied the script, he thought that Michael was reserved and somewhat of a “yes man.” As he explored it further, Stock decided, “I’m probably the least educated person in the room. I did not attend college whereas the other people were probably Ivy League trained. I have a wholesale business — I sell household goods. I am a blue-collar kid who came up from a hard neighborhood in Brooklyn. I’ve pulled myself up by my bootstraps and I’ve made a really good life. I’m defiantly, exactly who I say I am from beginning to end.”
Susan Steinmeyer of Highland Park plays Michael’s wife, Veronica. “She’s a bit of a social crusader,” Steinmeyer said. “She considers herself an expert on Darfur and how to be a peaceful person.”
The actor said it’s enjoyable watching Veronica, who talks about how people should behave, and seeing “how she ends up behaving throughout the show. She doesn’t necessarily practice 100 percent of what she preaches.”
Steinmeyer, who is a parent, said, “We all can relate a little bit to our children having done something or said something that you really wish they wouldn’t have done — and getting called out on that a little bit. With most people, it would not go the direction that this show goes but that’s what makes it funny.”
Ellen Cribbs said her character Annette is “a very meek and nervous person. Her child is the one who has hit this other child so there’s a lot of guilt and nervousness in being in this other couple’s home. But halfway through, she starts to get her backbone and starts defending her child, realizing that there’s a reason why he beat up this other kid.”
That’s when Annette “turns into a complete mess,” Cribbs said. “My character is the big spoiler of the show.”
Martin J. Hughes plays Annette’s husband Alan, a high-powered corporate lawyer. “His main focus during this show is dealing with a pharmaceutical company that he represents,” Hughes said. “They find out that the medicine that they’ve been giving to people for their blood pressure is causing other side effects. My character spends a lot of time on his cell phone being very brash and trying to do crisis management. He wants to be anywhere but where he is now.”
Hughes indicated that he couldn’t be further from the rude character he plays but, “It’s fun to get up there and push boundaries.”
Director Mell thinks “God of Carnage” is a good fit for Citadel because, “It’s a little edgier than most suburban fare.”
Actor Steinmeyer described it as “a roller-coaster ride. You see things kind of escalating and then once it goes over that edge, it just goes — and it doesn’t come back. Once they start behaving badly, it twists and turns, and it’s a lot of fun.”