Review: film star Sandra Ng's stage debut in God of Carnage
Ng gives inconsistent performance in black comedy about hypocrisy of middle class, but stage professionals Olivia Yan and Poon Chan-leung are a delight to watch
Black comedy God of Carnage, by French playwright Yasmina Reza, has been staged by three groups - in Cantonese, English and French - in Hong Kong over the past five years. Its latest Cantonese adaptation by Dionysus Contemporary Theatre stars two film actors - Anthony Wong Chau-sang and Sandra Ng Kwan-yu; and two stage veterans - Olivia Yan Wing-pui and Poon Chan-leung.
The play explores the hypocrisy and superficiality of the middle class in modern society, and exposes the venom and barbarity that lies beneath the civility. The dialogue is witty and packed full of punches; the structure is clever and its theme universal.
Michael (Wong) and Veronica (Ng) invite another couple, Alan (Poon) and Anna (Yan), over to talk about their sons who, earlier that day, had a fight in the playground, resulting one of them having two front teeth knocked out. What begins as a civilised discussion descends into farcical fracas. The couples, who have marital issues of their own, act like children.
Under the co-direction of Yan and Fong Chun-kit, the drama unfolds at a good pace. A lot of thought has gone into the positioning of the four actors on stage to highlight the shifting dynamics between the characters. At one point the women gang up on the men, then everyone turns on Veronica, then Alan. Freddie Wong's translation is faithful to the original while managing to be contemporary.
All eyes were on Ng on her professional stage debut. Her effort was noticeable, although her portrayal of Veronica was inconsistent. Wong's Michael was too in-your-face, while Poon's Alan was rightfully obnoxious but understated. Yan was a delight to watch, transforming Anna from a mouse to a lioness.
Dionysus Contemporary Theatre, Lyric Theatre, Academy for Performing Arts, until August 30. Reviewed August 6