God of Carnage

Written by Yasmina Reza

Thursday 14th April to Saturday 16th April, and Wednesday 20th April to Saturday 23rd April 2016

Directed by Pete Woodward

AuthorYasmina Reza

Yasmina Reza

Yasmina Reza was born on 1 May 1959 and is a French playwright, actress, novelist and screenwriter best known for her plays Art and God of Carnage. Many of her brief satiric plays reflected on contemporary middle-class issues.

Her father was a Jewish Iranian engineer, businessman and pianist of Russian descent (whose family left Moscow after the Bolsheviks came to power), and her mother was a Jewish Hungarian violinist from Budapest.

Before entering the acting industry, Reza completed her education in the University of Paris X, Nanterre, and at the drama school of Jacques Lacoq. At the beginning of her career, Reza acted in several new plays as well as in plays by Moliere and Marivaux.

In 1987 she wrote Conversations after a Burial, which won the Molière Award, the French equivalent of the Laurence Olivier Award or the Tony Award, for Best Author. Reza translated Polanski's stage version of Kafka's Metamorphosis in the late 1980s. Her second play, Winter Crossing, won the 1990 Moliere Award for Best Fringe Production, and her next play, The Unexpected Man, enjoyed successful productions in England, France, Scandinavia, Germany and New York.

In 1994, 'Art' premiered in Paris and went on to win the Moliere Award for Best Author. Since then it has been produced worldwide and translated and performed in over 30 languages. The London production, produced by David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers, received the 1996-97 Laurence Olivier Award and Evening Standard Award. It also won the Tony Award for Best Play. Life x 3 has also been produced in Europe, North America and Australia. Screenwriting credits include See You Tomorrow, starring Jeanne Moreau and directed by Reza's then-partner Didier Martiny.

In September 1997, her first novel, Hammerklavier, was published and another work of fiction, Une Desolation, was published in 2001. Her 2007 work L'Aube le Soir ou la Nuit (Dawn Evening or Night), written after a year of following the campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy caused a sensation in France.

In 2007 her play Le Dieu du Carnage (God of Carnage), performed first in Zurich, received the Viennese Nestroy-Theatre prize for the best German-language performance of the season. It opened in London in March 2008, in a translation by Christopher Hampton starring Ralph Fiennes, Tamsin Greig, Janet McTeer and Ken Stott. The London production won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, which Hampton accepted on her behalf. Hampton told the audience that Reza would be thrilled by the win. The play premiered on Broadway and won Best Play at the 2009 Tony Awards.


1987 Moliere Award for Best Author (Conversations After a Burial)

1988 Moliere Award for Translation (Metamorphosis)

1990 Moliere Award for Best Fringe Production (Winter Crossing)

1994 Moliere Award for Best Author, Best Play and Best Production (Art)

1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy (Art)

1998 Tony for Best Play (Art)

2009 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy (God of Carnage)

2009 Tony for Best Play (God of Carnage)

Translated by Christopher Hampton

Christopher James Hampton, CBE, FRSL was born on 26 January 1946 in Faial, Azores. His British parents were Dorothy Patience (nee Herrington) and Bernard Patrick Hampton, a marine telecommunications engineer for Cable and Wireless. His father's job led the family to settle in Aden and Alexandria in Egypt and later Hong Kong and Zanzibar. The Suez Crisis in 1956 necessitated that the family flee under cover of darkness, leaving their possessions behind.

After a prep school at Reigate, Hampton went to the independent boarding school Lancing College at the age of 13, where he won house colours for boxing and distinguished himself as a sergeant in the CCF. Fellow dramatist David Hare was a school contemporary; poet Harry Guest was a teacher.

From 1964 he read German and French at New College, Oxford, as a Sacher Scholar, and graduated with a starred First Class Degree in 1968.

Hampton became involved in the theatre while at Oxford University where OUDS performed his play When Did You Last See My Mother?, about adolescent homosexuality, reflecting his own experiences at Lancing. Hampton sent the work to the play agent Peggy Ramsay, who interested William Gaskill in it. The play was performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London, and that production soon transferred to the Comedy Theatre, resulting in Hampton, in 1966, becoming the youngest writer to have a play performed in the West End in the modern era. From 1968 to 1970 he worked as the Resident Dramatist at the Royal Court Theatre, and also as the company's literary manager.

Hampton won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1988 for the screen adaptation of his play Dangerous Liaisons. He was nominated again in 2007 for adapting Ian McEwan's novel Atonement.

PlayGod of Carnage

A playground altercation between 11-year-old boys brings together two sets of parents for a meeting to resolve the matter. At first, diplomatic niceties are observed but, as the meeting progresses, and the rum flows, tensions emerge and the gloves come off, leaving the couples with more than just their liberal principles in tatters.

" streamlined anatomy of the human animal… A study in the tension between civilised surface and savage instinct, this play is itself a satisfyingly primitive entertainment."

The New York Times


The Bench Production

The God of Carnage poster image

This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.


AlainDavid Penrose
MichelDan Finch
AnnetteMegan Green
VeroniqueJulie Wood


Director Pete Woodward
Producer Sally Hartley
Stage Manager Verity Finch
Assistant SM Lorraine Stone
Lighting Design Phil Hanley
Sound Design Phil Hanley
Lighting Operation Alan Ward
Sound Operation Marion Ward
Set Design Sue Dawes and Pete Woodward
Programme Editor Derek Callam
Photography Jacquie Penrose

Director's Notes

Some of you here to see 'God of Carnage' may be interested to know that we choose which plays to perform in the most democratic way we can devise - in short, potential directors present plays to the company and the company votes. In the case of 'God of Carnage', this differed slightly as I was unable to attend the voting procedure. It was a stroke of genius on my part to ask Julie Wood to present the play on my behalf and I am greatly indebted to her for doing so. I have learnt an important lesson: should I wish to submit any more plays in the near future... I have a plan! This will be the third play by Yasmina Reza performed by the Bench Theatre: 'Art' in 2006 and 'Life x 3' in 2012 being the first two. I was involved in both these productions and found the experience enormously enjoyable. Then, as now, I was immediately attracted by Reza's ability, along with her long time translator Christopher Hampton, to invest seemingly simple and uncomplicated situations with such a vivid portrayal of people attempting to make sense of their lives. The fact that comedy, and even farce, is wittily employed to great effect, is also, to me, extremely engaging. Audiences worldwide have reacted in a variety of ways to her plays. Some, the Americans, find them hilariously funny, the French, view them in a more measured but highly appreciative way. (That may be a sweeping generalisation, but I do believe there is some truth in it). It is undeniably true that 'God of Carnage' is a deeply serious play but it is also littered with laugh out loud moments. This ability to move an audience swiftly from one reaction to another demonstrates the skill of a playwright at the top of her form. I am of course lucky to be working with such a talented cast and crew and extend warm thanks to you all. I hope you, the audience, enjoy the show as much as we have in bringing it to you.

Pete Woodward


RemotegoatJill Lawrie

Hilarious analysis of modern parenting

'God of Carnage' is another hugely successful hit from French playwright Yasmina Reza and is the third to be performed by Bench Theatre in the last decade ('Art' 2006 and 'Life x 3' 2012). A 90 minute comically savage dissection of social hypocrisy that masks the symptoms of marital breakdown.

The drama begins with a frosty meeting between two sets of parents to discuss the dental implications following a playground fracas where one 11 year old boy has had his two front teeth knocked out by another 11 year old. The initial pleasantries are soon undermined by acerbic cutting remarks and as the alcohol begins to flow the conversation rapidly degenerates exposing yawning gaps in their own disintegrating marriages. What was once a comfortable sitting room ends up in a total state of carnage!

This talented cast of just four expertly portray Reza's courageous analysis of the decline of bourgeois values. There is fine support from Dan Finch taking on the role of the uncouth Michel Vallon who cruelly released his young daughter's hamster in the city street, but he ends up being on the receiving end of his wife Veronique's venom. His art-loving wife is played by Julie Wood, a moral crusader who gives an impressive performance as the dialogue escalates into an impassioned and emotional outburst. Megan Green represents the assailant's mother Annette Reille, one half of the 'power couple' and is superb as she throws up all over the priceless coffee table art catalogues and ends by hysterically demolishing the vase of tulips! David Penrose gives a masterful rendition of the frenzied lawyer Alain Reille. His cutting remarks and permanent attachment to his mobile phone and all the while avidly devouring the fruit tart drive everyone to distraction, but then his utter dismay at the sudden loss of his mobile phone leaving him utterly bereft!

A highly amusing satire of these four conflicted characters and their underlying sinister tensions.


Jill Lawrie, Remotegoat, April 15th 2016

Production Photographs