The Tab talks to Ben Weaver-Hincks before the last night of his production, ‘God of Carnage’.
James: So Ben, spin us a yarn about the show.
Ben: God of Carnage is a menacing comedy about middle-class pretensions and the darker side of human nature – making it ideally suited to a Durham student audience. Two sets of parents meet after their children have a fight in a local park, and over the course of an hour their civility descends into total chaos. If I called it ‘funny’ and ‘thought-provoking’, I’d be accused of using clichés, so I’ll just say that it provides an adequately entertaining evening of theatre.
J: The name rings a bell, should it?
B: When it hit the West End, it won the Olivier Award for Best New Play, and it’s had the third-longest Broadway run of any show since the millennium. Its film adaption, Carnage, recently hit the headlines when cast members Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and Jodie Foster had to travel to Paris for the shoot rather than New York, thanks to director Roman Polanski’s status as a fugitive. The controversy surrounding Polanski’s involvement in the project is arguably very apt, given that the script asks so many questions about our ability to make moral judgements and whether we have a social responsibility.
J: Big boots to fill then. Why did you choose to take it on?
B: Alex Wingfield, who plays the character of Alan, gave me a copy of the script and I loved it immediately. Those who haven’t taken a gap year may feel out of their depth with all the drinking, vomiting and discussions about Africa’s martyrdom condensed into one hour, but it really is a show everyone can enjoy. It’s fun, it’s threatening, and it’s messy, and directing it has been an absolute pleasure.
J: Has it been an easy journey to get to this point?
B: In the run-up to exams, with just two weeks from the first rehearsal to the final performance, it has certainly been a challenge. I’ve benefited from working with such an experienced cast and production team, who solve problems in half the time we’d normally have to rehearse a show in DST. The characters are already so fully realised in the script that developing them has been a really interesting process. I hear that Grace Cheatle has now been ostracised by a number of social groups, having adopted a little too much of her character’s painful self-righteousness.
J: Why should people drag themselves away from their revision bunkers?
B: Because the show has been one of the biggest critical and popular hits of the last decade. Because the cast are deservedly four of the Biggest Names in Durham Student Theatre, and the acting is stunning. And because you get to see Elissa Churchill chunder absolutely everywhere. If you’re still not convinced, watch our trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcYETzDyD_g
Book here: http://www.dur.ac.uk/DST/show.php?show=1045
More about the company: http://www.kronosproductions.co.uk/