The hostilities resume for the cast of 'God of Carnage'
Few Broadway casts have taken home the sorts of reviews and awards bestowed upon the original performers in Yasmina Reza’s “God of Carnage." Recently, the actors were rehearsing in a 42nd Street studio in New York before their much-anticipated reunion at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre.
Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden are back in the roles for which each was nominated for a 2009 Tony Award. The play, translated from the French by Christopher Hampton, took home Tonys for best play, actress Harden and director Matthew Warchus. “God of Carnage” opens Wednesday at the Ahmanson and has already announced an extension to May 29.
The celebrated foursome talked about the pleasures and pains of going from civility to chaos onstage night after night. As two sets of parents sit comfortably in an upscale Brooklyn neighborhood discussing a fight between their young sons, the only thing left standing at the play’s conclusion is the set, and it’s been through plenty as well.
“Why wouldn’t we want to do it again?” asks Daniels, who plays the most blatant boor in Reza's comedy of very bad manners. “We’ve all been around long enough to know it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For a straight play, a non-musical, to sell out for 256 straight shows and get the recognition it did and the audiences and the awards and all the attention — it was a great gig."
Gandolfini, forever in our hearts as Tony Soprano, saw the play in London and looked into the possibilities of doing it in New York. “I had wanted to try some theater,” says Gandolfini, "and this guy wasn’t the king of England or anything, so I figured I could play it.”
Davis compares the funny but thoughtful play to a doubles tennis match: “It’s very fast and you have to be on your toes all the time. You’re working in pairs, yet you’re also working singly. And you can’t look away for a split second or the ball will be dropped and the game will stop."
It doesn’t hurt to be with people you know, adds Harden: “The play itself is such an unveiling. You have to be open and vulnerable. You don’t want to do that if you’re not with people you can absolutely trust.”
You can read more about the play “God of Carnage” and its players in Sunday's Arts & Books; click here.
-- Barbara Isenberg in New York
Photos: Top, Hope David, Jeff Daniels, center, and James Gandolfini in "God of Carnage." Lower, Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times.