Couple cuts loose in bickering ‘Carnage’ roles

February 20, 2019

Lots of actors have “chemistry,” but Friendswood couple Luke and Roxann Hales create tension onstage, said Darian Silvers, who directed them in “God of Carnage,” which is playing Feb. 22 through March 10 at Clear Creek Community Theatre.

Luke Hales is a journalism teacher at J. Frank Dobie High School in Pasadena, and his wife works as a hospital administrator in Galveston. Their characters in the play are married, but not to each other, in the biting comedy by French author Yasmina Reza. In Christopher Hampton’s English translation, which won the 2009 Tony Award for best play on Broadway, the action begins politely as the parents of an 11-year-old bully tender an apology on his behalf to the parents of a boy he socked in a playground assault.

“But is he sorry?” the victim’s mother wants to know.

Things escalate quickly, as the adults drop their courteous facades and begin sniping at each other, Silvers said.

Luke and Roxann Hales read for all of the roles, but they were cast, respectively, as the bully’s father, attorney Alan Raleigh, and the victim’s mother, Veronica Novak, a do-gooder who is writing a book about the violent Darfur region of Sudan.

Heather Hughes of Seabrook was cast as Alan’s wife, Annette, “who is used to letting her husband dealing with everything,” said the director. He called Veronica’s husband, Michael, “the schlub of the group.” Michael is played by Robert Meek, a resident of the east side of downtown Houston.

All four characters, said Luke Hales, “are horrible people, in the sense that we are human. We’re all still kids, and we get our feelings hurt, and that is where our juvenile behavior is coming from.”

“Personality-wise,” he added, “I am more like the other guy (Michael). Alan reminds me of Don Draper on TV’s ‘Mad Men,’ supercapable but superdysfunctional.”

The actor, who grew up in Baytown, said he and his wife enjoy “playing off each other” as tension builds between the four characters in the play.

Roxann Hales, who grew up in southern California, has been acting “since I could walk,” she said.

A graduate of San Jacinto College Central with an associate’s degree in theater arts, she coordinates activity in the radiology department at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston while also pursuing a degree in hospital administration at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

“I have already warned my friends and colleagues that this play captures parts of myself that I don’t normally show people,” she said. “It does get a little bit violent at one point. It is a challenge for me because I am usually soft-spoken and goofy. In the play, we use some slurs and bad language. Don’t bring your kids.”

A 2011 movie version of the play, with the title shortened to “Carnage,” was directed by Roman Polanski and starred Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet and John C. Reilly.

Performances of “God of Carnage” will be at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Call 281-335-5228 for reservations or visit www.clearcreekcommunitytheatre.com.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 students and seniors, with group rates available.

Clear Creek Community Theatre is at 18091 Upper Bay Road in Nassau Bay.

Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be reached at donmaines@att.net