With the title “God of Carnage,” theatergoers may assume they have to sit down and buckle up for a serious, maybe even uncomfortably serious, play.
Despite its title, the performance at Edmonds’ Phoenix Theatre is laced with comedy — as well as a dose of profanity.
“I would say it is a dark comedy,” said Debra Rich Gettleman, the theater’s managing director, who also stars as Veronica Novak in the production.
Other cast members include: Jalyn Green, playing Michael Novak; Amy Gentry, playing Annette Raleigh; and Phillip Keiman, playing Alan Raleigh.
The French playwright, Yasmina Reza, didn’t think of it as a comedy when she wrote it. The reason Phoenix Theatre believes the Tony award-winning play was so successful on Broadway is “they understood it was a commentary about society that needed humor to make it work,” Rich Gettleman said.
“Our production is comic, but it’s also dark and makes an important statement about parenting and political correctness,” she said.
The play is about two well-to-do couples whose children go to a private school. Their 11-year-old boys get into an altercation. The parents get together to sort it out, with what they hope is wisdom and maturity.
Nevertheless, the process quickly devolves into what she describes as a playground brawl. “Without giving anything away, the conflict grows exponentially,” Rich Gettleman said.
The play is something of a gamble for the theater, known for producing screwball comedies.
The theater company wants to give its audiences the opportunity to talk about issues and think. “We felt this is an extremely relevant play,” she said.
One note of caution. The dialogue does include a lot of four-letter profanity. For that reason, it’s not recommended for young audiences or those who might be offended by the rough language.
The theater group talked about whether to soften the play’s language, but ultimately decided against it.
For one thing, it’s a theatrical no-no to change the playwright’s words, she said. But the group also felt that none of the coarse language is gratuitous.
“There’s a line between chaos and civility and savage and civil and we needed to show that — that’s the point of the play,” Rich Gettleman said.
Phoenix Theatre will continue its mission of producing comedic plays. But she said she believes its audience sometimes will be ready for something that pushes the boundaries a little.
“I think we could use something that’s a little edgy and something that makes people want to go, ‘Maybe the way we’re parenting these days is not always perfect.’
“It’s not preachy,” she said. “It’s just a clever, super funny piece of theater.”
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
Phoenix Theatre’s “God of Carnage” continues at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sunday through April 29. The theater is at 9673 Firdale Ave. in Edmonds. Tickets are $12 to $24. Call 206-533-2000 or go to www.tptedmonds.org for more information.