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The god of the smaller things
on February 9, 2011
"[Are] we interested in anything but ourselves? Of course we'd all like to believe in the possibility of improvement", says poor Alain, one of the four characters in Yasmina Reza's play "The god of carnage". He may be naïve for a single moment saying this, but deep down he - and probably the French dramatist - do not believe in the possibility of improving the human being.
Alain, his wife Annette, and the couple Véronique and Michel, are clear example of the well meant bourgeoisies whose blindness do not allow to see beyond their belly tummy. The answer to Alain first question is: not. No, they - and for extension we - are not interested in anything but themselves. The excuse for the gathering is each couple's child behavior - one of them has hurt the other with a stick. This is said in the first lines of the play, but what arises after a couple of minutes is the inherent nastiness that inhabits the inside of each of us.
Reza's strong dialogues - translated with pitch perfection by Christopher Hampton - exposes above all her characters' moral fragilities. They are like a quartet playing a game whose winner is the one who best betrays his/her companions. For that they pair up with somebody else from the other couple, but, in the end, each is playing for on his/her own.
What is it to be a parent? What is it to be half of a married couple? Are there rules for one live in society? How to fulfill other people's expectations towards us? Or, as a matter of fact, should we? There is a lot of irony in "The god of carnage" because we behave as others expect us to, and rarely show our true colors. They criticize the children's behavior and are hoped to teach them how to behave. But how can they do that when they themselves behave worse?