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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Aggressive, Dark Comedy Downtown

God of Carnage
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Umbrella Group brings the Milwaukee premiere of God of Carnage to life in an aggressively clever little combustion that lights up the Downtown Milwaukee theater scene. A deft cast slices through Yasmina Reza’s dark, destructive comedy. Under the direction of Bo Johnson, four talented actors swiftly articulate the often dizzying complexity of Reza’s script. 

Two wealthy couples meet to discuss an altercation between their 11-year-old boys. A civilized adult conversation descends into infantile aggression in a brisk, intoxicating fugue that evaporates in less than 90 minutes.

The action takes place in the home of Michael and Veronica. Michael owns a hardware dealership. Matt Wickey judiciously plays him on a comically nightmarish descent through the layers of falsehood in his life. This is a transformative hour or so for Michael and Wickey gives that transformation a dynamic, earthbound gravity. Veronica is writing a book on the brutal situation in Darfur. Anna Figlesthaler is poised, confident and dynamic as Veronica, imbuing her with a grace and precision that match a strong sense of compassion.

Visiting the couple are Alan and Annette Raleigh. A pleasantly explosive Jason Will plays Alan, a sleazy corporate lawyer, restlessly caught between the situation at hand and the business he’s constantly conducting over the phone. As Annette, who says she is in wealth management, Libby Amato comes across as the sturdy emotional fortress that is quickly eroded over the course of the play. The talented Amato has an entertaining grasp of the character’s journey from fragile conservative to wild-eyed upper-class nihilist.

Umbrella Group Milwaukee’s production of God of Carnage runs through July 20, at the Tenth Street Theatre, 628 N. Tenth St. For tickets, visit umbrellagroupmilwaukee.com