Mary Washington theatre students are cooking up something special for their new production, God of Carnage. The comedic commentary on the modern-day strains of remaining civil amid controversy runs Feb. 14 to 24 in UMW’s Klein Theatre. A special pay-what-you-can preview presentation takes place tonight at 7:30.
Two pairs of well-to-do parents sort through a playground altercation between their sons in the show, set entirely in the New York apartment of Michael and Veronica Novak, collectors of African art. Valued sculpture and masks mingle with thick stacks of books, sleek furniture and animal-print pillows in the posh, upscale apartment. But if one of the props looks good enough to eat, it’s because it is. Cast members gather in an off-campus kitchen to create the delicious clafoutis they nibble onstage.
Feigning ingesting a faux version of the dessert just wouldn’t do, said Director of Marketing and Audience Services Jon Reynolds. “In professional theatre, real food is consumed all the time. For the sake of authenticity, we replicate that practice here at UMW.”
Besides, the claufouti feeds into the storyline. The French flan-like dish made with fresh fruit seems sophisticated and, quite frankly, pretentious, much like the God of Carnage characters themselves. At its heart, though, the culinary creation – made of simple ingredients like butter and sugar, flour and eggs – is just a custard cloaked in a showy façade.
As Veronica serves the dish to guests Alan and Annette, debating its classification as a cake or a tart, explaining her fruit-slicing techniques and revealing her secret ingredient, the clafouti helps smooth things over. But as the evening progresses, the polite conversation dissolves into chaos.
Humors seem to simmer at a more even keel when UMW students trade their scripts in for spatulas to follow the Julia Child recipe Department of Theatre and Dance Chair Gregg Stull chose for the production.
“Learning to make the clafoutis was really great. I love how honest it makes the moment in the play when I talk about loving to cook and making the clafoutis with my own secret ingredient,” said junior Lydia Hundley, who plays Veronica. “I actually made the clafoutis all of us are eating!”
Written by Yasmina Reza and translated by Christopher Hampton, God of Carnage runs Feb. 14 to 16 and Feb. 20 to 23 at 7:30 p.m., and February 17, 23 and 24 at 2 p.m. in duPont Hall’s Klein Theatre. Tickets cost $20 for general admission, and $16 for students, senior citizens, alumni, and military. A Pay-What-You-Can Preview Performance takes place tonight at 7:30. AfterWords, a post-show talkback with the cast, will take place following the Feb. 17 matinee.