McHenry County College's 'God of Carnage' opens new Black Box Summer Theater program

Combine a newly renovated theater with professional actors, a Tony Award-winning production and an inaugural summer program and you've got "God of Carnage."

The dark comedy opens July 10 at McHenry County College, 8900 Route 14, Crystal Lake, as part of the college's new Black Box Summer Theatre program.

Written by Yasmina Reza, the play won a Tony Award in 2009 and tells the story of how a playground altercation between 11-year-old boys brings together two sets of Brooklyn parents for a meeting to resolve the matter.

Unique to other productions of the play, McHenry County College's rendition will show off the more intimate setting of the Black Box Theatre by actually bringing the audience through the set, Director Kellee Stall said.

"The way we placed the audience they walk through the back stage and go in through an apartment complex," she said.

"You walk into their living room. The whole thought behind that was to give the audience the feeling like they're a part of this, they're part of this living room, stuck in this discussion."

Stall has worked with Jay Geller, producer and actor for the play, as well as the chair of McHenry County College's theater program, to create the inaugural summer theater program, which brings professional actors to the college.

The idea was to show off both the theater itself, as well as what the college is capable of when it comes to professional theater, said Geller, who plays Michael, a father of one of the sons involved in the playground altercation.

"We try to push the envelope a little bit, offer a little more than the community theaters," said Geller, who pointed out that the college's last production was "columbines," about the shootings at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999.

"We like to push a little and explore different styles of theater which aren't really produced in this area," he said.

in "God of Carnage," one child hits another child in the face with a stick, and the parents have come together to try to resolve the conflict, Geller said. Geller's character is the father of the son hit in the face. At first, diplomatic niceties are observed, but as the meeting progresses, and the rum flows, tensions emerge.

"By the end, the adults are acting worse than the children were to begin with," Geller said. "There's some drama, but also some comedy, the real reactions they have to each other, all those juvenile things we have inside of us most of us are able to keep under wraps, but these people can't."

Because of its adult content and strong language, the play is recommended for those ages 15 and older.

Once the production is over, the audience will exit through the on-set kitchen, Stall said, which will show an "aftermath of what happens."

Along with Geller, the production stars Shannon Mayhall as Veronica, Laura Power as Annette and Patrick Thompson as Alan.

Performances will be held at 7 p.m. July 10-11 and 17-18 and at 2 p.m. July 19. Tickets cost $12 or $14 including a dessert and drink, and can be purchased at the door. For reservations and information, call 815-455-8746 or email

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