Skip to content Skip to footer

Review: ‘God of Carnage’ at the Theatre Factory


If we reflect on pop culture history, we can likely recall numerous examples of allegorical tales of suburban relational dysfunction. From American Beauty to Revolutionary Road and Married with Children, dramatic comedies that use humor to alleviate the discomfort from the perils of one’s life are pretty standard. 

Yasmina Reza’s 2008 play God of Carnage is an example of a comedic yet painful glimpse into the attempts at putting a veneer over the angst of suburban precarity. Presented by The Theater Factory and directed by Brandon FarnethGod of Carnage is a hilarious macabre that takes audiences into the home of the Novak family. Michael and Veronica Novak (Jim Froehlich and Jennifer Fitzgerald) host Alan and Annette Raleigh (Mike Byrne and Rebekah Hukill) as they attempt to discuss a recent incident that occurred between the families’ respective children. The Raleigh’s son hit, or mauled, the Novak’s son with a stick, leaving him hurt, or as Veronica claims, “disfigured,” and missing not one, but TWO teeth – a fact that Veronica reminds the Raleigh’s of repeatedly. 

From left: Jim Froehlich, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Rebekah Hukill, Mike Byrn
Theatre Factory photo

The two families meet in an attempt to reconcile the situation and determine how the children should both repent and make amends. As their discussions or disagreements unfold, themes of parenting styles and the expectations of children quickly emerge. The Raleighs take a more laissez-faire approach to parenting and feel their son may have just been sticking up for himself after being ostracized from a peer group. 

They do refer to their son as a savage and seem to be overwhelmed with all aspects of parenting, specifically Annette, as we learn she is left to deal with all elements of domesticity despite having a full-time job since Alan is a pharmaceutical attorney and spends more time on his cell phone than with his family. The Novaks, however, are more “lawnmower” or “bulldozer” parents and feel that their son is at no fault for suffering this malicious attack that has left him disfigured and in need of potentially decades-long dental reconfiguration. We are left to question if there is a better approach to parenting over another. Is eleven years old too young to understand the serious repercussions of your actions? How responsible should parents be for their children’s actions?

From the moment the play begins, Carnage is a full-throttle production, unrelenting until curtain call, as there is no intermission in the hour and twenty-minute performance. Each of the four actors takes audiences on a rollercoaster of emotions, proving themselves as dynamic, complicated, but relatable individuals. Even if you do not have children, you can likely relate to either the self-loathing, self-deprecating, burnt-out or simply exhausted and disengaged emotions that every character exudes at one point throughout the show. 

Both couples are connected with a strong sense of communication and cohesion. However, as the show continues, the couples forge ahead in trying to conclude how to resolve the conflict between their children, and more baggage, drama, and Freudian suppression of repressed trauma emerge for each of them. Pains of being unappreciated, unheard, overworked, and simply unhappy come forth from each character in brilliant batches of turmoil offset by painstakingly witty humor. Each actor has moments where they loathe their counterparts, including their spouses, but moments later find peace, solitude, comradery, and even understanding in them. This stark dichotomy emulates the “frien-emy” situation that we are too often challenged within our lives. We are quick to judge a peer but later find they have more in common than initially suspected. I suspect it would be difficult not to identify with each character at one point or another throughout the show. Froelich, Fitzgerald, Byrne, and Hukill are hilarious, raw, relatable, authentic, and vulnerable. Each takes a turn as both the protagonist and antagonist; they play their characters with a sense of angst and veracity that makes you want to be their friend but also makes you self-reflect on your own flaws. God of Carnage represents life as it is – messy, multidimensional, and at times exhausting.

Veronica devotes her work to researching and writing about Africa that she is accused of her bleeding heart spilling into her every day and viewing her peers, including her husband, as nihilistic. Michael wants to be in control of his life but often resorts to drinking to feel something. Alan and Annette immerse themselves in their work to circumvent the need to have painful and challenging conversations about their unhappy marriage. Hukill’s brilliant delivery of a long-awaited maneuver on her husband’s cell phone shows how much pent-up frustration and unspoken anger a wife can have. 

Sometimes, we need random strangers to say what goes unsaid in our lives. Sometimes, we need a drink or five to have the courage to speak our truth. Sometimes, the world just gets ahead of us and seems too insurmountable, resulting in us reveling in Froelich’s perfectly executed line, “What do we know?”

While none of us have the answers to life’s small questions, much less the larger, existential ones, I do know that God of Carnage deserves to be seen. You will laugh, you will think, perhaps self-reflect, but also identify in these rich characters who represent a little piece of all of us. 


God of Carnage at the Theatre Factor has performances on May 2 – 4, 2024. For tickets visit: