Thursday, June 20, 2013

James Gandolfini - a God of Carnage

 

I confess I have never seen the Sopranos. Hard to believe I know. But when I heard today that James Gandolfini had died I didn't immediately think of Tony Soprano. I thought instead of an amazing night with his character Michael in the play God of Carnage in New York.

God of Carnage ran on Broadway from March 2009 to June 2010. Starring James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis and Marcia Gay Harden it told the story of two sets of parents meeting after their two sons have had a fight in middle school. Starting with a civil, tempered discussion of how to help these two boys sort our their differences it deteriorates into a scene of ego, fights, drinking, vomiting and naked anger and aggression between the four characters.

It's a tough play. My friends and I walked from the theatre to the restaurant and straight to the bar, seeking comfort in a stiff drink. We felt raw. The play had successfully lured us into thinking we were seeing a comedy and then turned on us, as viciously as the characters, and punched us in the gut. You could not leave that play without realizing how thin the veneer is between manners and carnage.

James Gandolfini was superb. Completely believable. Subtle and brutal at the same time. Riveting to watch. He was simply a terrific actor and I am sorry we have all lost him so young.

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