There is real-life drama, and there is stage drama. Stage drama is supposed to have exposition, conflict and resolution - neatly constructed in chronological order.
Yasmina Reza deconstructs a play like a modern chef might deconstruct a classic sandwich. In life, we don't need exposition. Firstly, because we've probably heard you hated your childhood a million times; and secondly, in life, we get to the point.
Reza's "God of Carnage" has more in common with the real world than with drama. It gets to the point, there is no intermission, and resolutions are suspect.
Don Carlson, Kisha Milling, William Makozak and Jennifer Rose star in “God of Carnage,” onstage at ProArts Playhouse in Kihei.
JACK GRACE photo
We all deal with conflict differently. Some scream and yell, then suddenly feel calmed. Some were fine until the screaming and yelling began, but are then left with the need to analyze. Some never cared in the first place. Others sit, stewing on the sidelines, waiting for their moment to pounce. That is what "Carnage" is about: how we deal with conflict.
ProArts Playhouse's four actors offer a production worthy of the big city that their characters inhabit.
Director Jonathan Lehman has been producing and presenting bold, raw, New York-style theater over the years, but "God of Carnage may be his best thus far.
Don Carlson emotes disdain, realism and a sense of 'Why are we wasting our time with this?' as Alan the lawyer, who seems more concerned with cell phone calls. "My son is a savage," he says, as if to imply bullies will be bullies, let the kids work it out on the playground.
William Makozak, as Michael, has been dressed up as a liberal, and probably asked by wife Veronica (Jennifer Rose), to be on his best behavior. Michael likes compromise and reverts from confrontation. As the evening progresses, he appears to like rum and cigars, embracing the 'to hell with it' philosophy.
Kisha Milling, as Annette, quiet at first, needs a little liquid courage and takes control in the second half of the show with pointed questions about a murdered hamster and the annoyance of men who need a crutch, as in a cell phone.
Alan counters with: "What is sexy to men sensuality and unpredictability - Jane Fonda makes me want to join the KKK."
Pretty much every foul word or politically incorrect thought emerges once the bottle of rum is cracked, but that is when the characters of "Carnage" discard civilized for their more primal nature.
Perhaps the juiciest of roles is Veronica, played by Rose. The physical pouncing and beating of her husband, Michael, is near stage perfection. The most complex of all the roles, Veronica may be a bit two-faced, but at least one of those faces truly cares and seeks to reconcile the fight between their children, as well as the ones with each other.
When "Carnage" concludes, you may wonder if anything has even been remotely resolved, but one can say the same thing about life.
ProArts has had more than one award-worthy production this season, but if there must be a crescendo, Lehman has saved the best for last.
* "God of Carnage" by Yasmina Reza and directed by Jonathan Lehman continues through May 11. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Tickets are $22, with kamaaina discounts available for Hawaii residents tonight and May 8. "God of Carnage" contains strong adult language. For tickets or more information, call 463-6550.