Phoenix Theatre brings on the ‘Carnage’

By Jesse Blair | Apr 05, 2018
Courtesy of: Phoenix Theatre The “God of Carnage” cast includes Debra Rich Gettleman, Phillip Keiman, Amy Gentry and Jaylyn Green.

“It’s brilliant and funny as heck, but also makes a statement that will make folks think and want to talk after the show.”

That’s Phoenix Theater’s managing director and actor Debra Rich Gettleman’s impressions of “God of Carnage,” the theater’s production opening Friday, April 6.

Yazmina Reza, who wrote the play, is one of the most celebrated playwrights of today, Gettleman said. It won the Tony Award in 2009 and has played in every major city in the country.

Is it a drama, comedy, or both?

“It’s both,” director Rick Wright said. “The subject matter is very serious.” It follows a playground confrontation between two 11-year-old boys, one of whom is severely injured by the other. The parents decide to resolve the issue in a cordial, mature matter. But soon parental instincts take over – and civility expires.

“Everything devolves until the parents, trying to be the adults, become children,” Wright said.

Wright has been involved in Seattle area theater since the late ’70s. “I’ve played in the pit, acted, directed and taught at local schools.” He has run summer camps, sat on a few boards, dozens of committees and been involved in close to 200 productions. He currently serves as technical director for Edmonds Driftwood Players.

“I often say that my role as a director is to cast well, then get out of the way,” Wright said. “When you have a cast this talented, it’s best not to stifle their creativity while at the same time making sure that everyone is on the same page artistically.”

His role is about listening to each other and working as a team.

“From the set designer to painters to the lighting people and costumer, we are all part of making each scene and the entire show a fun and memorable experience. The biggest part of community theater is the community. It takes so many people to put on a show; actors usually being the smallest part of each production. They are all working to that single goal, to have all the parts working well by opening night.”

Gettleman is originally from Chicago. Her background is in acting, writing and producing. She also worked in Los Angeles as an actor and talk radio host. She is an award-winning journalist, and a number of her plays have been performed around the country.

Gettleman joins a cast of veteran actors from Seattle, including Phillip Keiman, Amy Gentry and Jalyn Green. Her role is the preachy Veronica.

“Veronica is every preachy Peace Corps do-gooder you’ve ever met,” Gettleman said. “Her motives are pure. But her smug assertion and self-righteousness wears on everyone's nerves.”

Gettleman said “God of Carnage” is a little risky for Phoenix.

"There is some coarse language, and this is not a family show,” she said.

The theater debated whether to soften the play’s language, but decided to leave it for legality and the professional nature of the theater. The harsh language is not gratuitous but it is intended to drive home the playwright’s intentions.

“We have a smart, sophisticated audience who can handle a few well-placed expletives,” Gettleman said. “But if you’re easily offended by language, this might not be the show for you.”

“God of Carnage”

Where: Phoenix Theatre, 9673 Firdale Ave., Edmonds
When: April 6-29. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: $19-$24
Information:, 206-533-2000


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