A Maple Ridge director is taking on the dark comedy God of Carnage.
Aaron Davis, who has been involved in theatre for more than 20 years both as an actor and a director, will be directing the production for Stage 43. It’s a story that follows the plight of two parents who meet to discuss a playground fight between their sons.
However, what promised to be a civilized conversation quickly breaks down into a chaotic and hilarious battle of wills.
As the night wears on, the parents drink too much booze, and engage in a series of outrageous antics that not only lay bare their deepest fears and desires, but also reveal their true colours.
They descend into a violent and “primal state” hurling insults at one another, destroying property, and sullying each other’s reputation.
And by the end of the night the pair come to a new understanding of one another – for better or worse.
God of Carnage, written by French playwright Yasmina Reza, won the 2009 Tony Award for Best Play. It was translated in 2003 into English by Christopher Hampton to be put on Broadway.
Davis heard about the play about a year or two later and when he read the script the first time, he felt like it was tattletaling on everybody he knew.
“It was so bitingly satirical that I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t stop reading it,” he said.
God of Carnage, he said, has been in the top three on his bucket list of plays to direct for years.
Davis did some acting in high school, but let it drop when he joined the military. He didn’t follow his passion again until he moved to Maple Ridge in 2000, and discovered the Emerald Pig Theatrical Society. He performed in his first play with them in 2003 and never looked back, working on one or two shows a year since.
He has been with Stage 43 as a director for about three years, and about a decade as an actor.
When Davis first read God of Carnage he thought it was really relevant to society.
“It really kind of showed us at our worst, I guess,” he chuckled. “The way, maybe, we would see other people that we don’t know when they are behaving kind of badly, right?”
Today, he believes, the play is even more relevant to society, chiefly in the post-COVID landscape that the world has found itself in.
Especially, he said, the way people behave on social media.
Davis said one of the challenges of putting on this play is some of the language in it makes even him uncomfortable.
“It only happens a couple of times,” he explained. But it is at the end of the play when everything descends to the end of the “conflict rope.”
Slurs are thrown out before the play moves on. Davis says he understands why the slurs are part of the story. The author put it in there because that’s how we behave when we are at our worst, “when we are really at our worst”, he explained.
“Directing people to say those words and helping them come to terms with saying those words, that’s been a bit of a challenge to some degree,” he said, adding that this script is very deep for a satire and the writing he described as smart. A lot of comedy can be pretty shallow, he said.
Davis is hoping the audience sees some of themselves in the characters on stage. He is hoping they reflect on what they are like when they are at their worst and maybe reflect on how they interact with people, especially those they don’t know around the subject of parenting children.
He also hopes that people realize that we all have the potential to reach these lows and to give others the benefit of the doubt and not condemn a person forevermore for some poor behaviour at the moment.
Next, Davis is hoping to direct the comedic play Ben Hur, written by Patrick Barlow, a play he has the rights pending for right now and if he gets the rights, the theatre company that he founded – Curious and Company Entertainment Society – will be putting it on in October.
God of Carnage will run from April 27 to May 6 at Evergreen Cultural Centre, 1205 Pinetree Way, in Coquitlam.
Tickets are available now and can be purchased online at stage43.org, by phone at 604-927-6555, or in person at the box office.
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