This season, AtticRep marks its return to a full production schedule after being named the first theatre company in residence at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in December of last year. Their inaugural season at the Tobin resembles an Attic’s Greatest Hits album with four plays making a return to the stage, albeit in a significantly larger attic. The company’s space at Trinity University was small, intimate, and engaging with room for less than a hundred seats. At the Tobin’s Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater—a space the AtticRep will share with the SOLI Chamber Ensemble and San Antonio Chamber Choir— higher ceilings, 250+ seats, and an open floor plan mean Producing Artistic Director Roberto Prestigiacomo and his team will have more freedom to reach more people.
The first in the AtticRep’s revival season is Yasmina Reza’s 2009 award-winning contemporary comedy, God of Carnage, which the AtticRep produced to much critical acclaim in 2012. This production features the return of most of the original cast, and their comfort with each other is evident. Gloria Sanchez-Molina and Andrew Thornton reprise their roles as Veronica and Michael Novak, whose child, Henry, is objectively injured by another child, Benjamin. Benjamin’s parents, Alan and Annette Raleigh are portrayed by returning actor, Rick Frederick, and new addition, AtticRep regular, Renee Garvens. What begins as an attempt to maturely settle the differences of two little boys on the playground quickly devolves into an exploration and deconstruction of Western propriety and decorum.
The minimalist, contempo loft in the round designed by Jeremiah Teutsch acts as the perfect sandbox for our adults to play in as they discuss their children’s playground antics, and the perfect fishbowl for us to examine four parents’ march into childlike brutality. When Annette prophetically asks, “How many parents sticking up for their children become infantile themselves?” the trajectory of the play is firmly established. The Novak’s, led unapologetically by Sanchez’ blistering portrayal of Veronica as the epitome of moral and societal refinement, battle the more laissez-faire Raleigh’s in a series of verbal scuffles that feature shifting loyalties and quite a bit of rum. Conflicts become physical, petty, pernicious, puerile, and when Alan drunkenly exclaims the existence of a God of Carnage, his handiwork in the Novak’s home is palpable enough.
The familiarity Sanchez, Thornton, and Frederick bring to their roles is powerful and immediate—with a particularly strong performance from San Antonio stage icon, Andrew Thornton—often challenging the stiff acting Garvens to keep pace. The story’s lack of resolution may appeal to some, but without a clear winner or loser, the action of this play—while interesting and often very funny—ultimately seemed like a futile effort and turned off this critic. Still, God of Carnage proves to be a valiant kickoff for AtticRep’s new season. It’s limited engagement means that your chance to see God of Carnage has passed, but look out for the rest of AtticRep’s regular season. We can only hope their look to the past propels the company into a bigger and brighter future.
Be sure to catch the rest of the AtticRep’s inaugural season at the Tobin:
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Nov 12-23)
True West (Jan 28-Feb 8)
The Irish Curse (Mar 25-Apr 5)
Exit Critic, Pursued by a Bear