story and photos by Christine Coester, special to The City Wire
ROGERS — Rogers Little Theater continues its 26th year of musicals and plays with the presentation of God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton. The show opened this weekend (June 1) at RLT’s home at Victory Theater in downtown Rogers.
The play is “a comedy of manners … without the manners,” said director Ed McClure. It tells the tale of two pairs of parents who meet to discuss the unruly behavior of their children. The roles of Alan and Annette Raleigh are played by Joseph K. Farmer and Andria Lickfelt; Michael and Veronica Novak are played by Charles Riedmueller and Laura Marie Rivera.
The evening unfolds hilariously as the parents themselves become unruly as the tense yet civilized discussion turns to utter chaos. This 2009 Tony Award-Winning Best Play is a must-see. RLT adheres to the author’s vision of a sleek, almost minimalistic set with continuous action on stage.
This type of play is the first of its kind for RLT, McClure said.
“This is a real departure from our main stage [productions]. It is our most modern and the newest that we’ve done. It literally just closed on Broadway,” he said.
The piece is contemporary, lasting only 75 minutes and without an intermission.
“It’s funny in a cerebral way. It makes you think because it highlights the carnage and primal side of marriage and being a parent,” McClure said.
Three of the four actors — Farmer, Lickfelt and Riedmueller — are technically deemed amateur actors but you’d never suspect it by their performances in God of Carnage. Each with several performances under their belts, they show talent while exuding confidence and passion onstage. Offstage, these actors make their homes in Rogers, Springdale and Centerton.
Special to this performance is the RLT debut of actress Laura Marie Rivera, an equity performer whose appearance is courtesy of an anonymous donor. For the past 12 years she has toured the United States and Europe in productions of Kiss Me Kate, Parade, Beauty and the Beast and 42nd Street.
God of Carnage continues next weekend (June 7-10) with Friday and Saturday performances at 8 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are available on RLT’s website or through the box office at (479)-631-8988.
A highlight of RLT’s forthcoming 27th season is the world premiere Checks & Balances, written and directed by Oren Safdie, son of Moshe Safdie, the world-renowned architect who designed the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. The younger Safdie, who visited RLT during the unveiling of the museum, was so impressed with the theater that he chose to premier his play here before it continues on to New York.