A gem at 25

Rob Johansen, Tim Lile, Jennifer Joplin and Jennifer Johansen in God of Carnage. Rob Johansen, Tim Lile, Jennifer Joplin and Jennifer Johansen in God of Carnage.

Human Race Theatre Company opens their 25th anniversary season with God of Carnage

By Brian P. Sharp

God of Carnage

Rob Johansen, Tim Lile, Jennifer Joplin and Jennifer Johansen in God of Carnage.

Rob Johansen, Tim Lile, Jennifer Joplin and Jennifer Johansen in God of Carnage.

The Human Race Theatre Company has aggressively approached their 25th anniversary. Five premiers are on the schedule and the first, a Tony Award-winning play, God of Carnage, written by Yasmina Reza, translation by Christopher Hampton and directed by Margaret Perry opened last weekend. The show runs until September 25 at the Loft Theatre.
The play, about adults behaving badly, focuses on what happens when an innocent childhood “conflict” brings four adults together to try and address the issue. What unfolds exposes far more conflict within the lives of the adults.

The lights come up on a beautifully decorated New York apartment designed by David Centers. While from a set dressing point of view every detail seems to be delivered, the structural entrances to the hallway, kitchen and bathroom seem awkward.  There are tough delays at the apartment door that could have been avoided by moving the exterior entrance to where the kitchen is placed. It seems nearly impossible from a construction point of view that those entrances could work in a real apartment.

The strongest performance comes from Jennifer Johansen who plays Veronica, the most believable of the group. She simply wants the “assault” on her child addressed, though no one else seems to give the issue as much priority as she would like, or expects. Her husband Michael is played by Tim Lile, a resident artist with the Human Race. Jennifer’s real-life husband Rob Johansen plays the part of Alan, an attorney dealing with bigger issues than resolving childhood fighting. The final character, Annette, played by Jennifer Joplin seems to always take the back seat to Alan’s work priorities, including his cell phone.

Watch the drama unfold like peeling an onion, layer by layer, as the issues within the lives of these four adults are realized. What is the resolution? You need to see the play to get the answer.

Tickets are available at www.humanracetheatre.org or by calling Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or at the Schuster Center box office.


Happy anniversary
As part of the celebration of the 25th season, the Human Race Theatre Company has created a “25 for 25” ticket option, with the 25 seats at each end of the Loft Theatre available for just $25 at every performance.

And speaking of the 25th anniversary, much has happened over the last 25 years for the Human Race. In 1986, a group of talented ladies and arts patrons (Suzy Bassani, Caryl D. Philips and Sara Exley) joined forces to form Dayton’s own permanent professional theatre production company and incorporated it as the Human Race in April of that year. The first production, Count Dracula, was performed at the Victoria Theatre that September. Kevin Moore was the first executive director — a position he still holds today.

Four seasons produced 19 major productions in the renovated lobby of the Biltmore Hotel. In 1990, the Human Race produced Viva Victoria to celebrate the reopening of the newly renovated Victoria Theatre. In 1991, Suzy Bassani retired and Marsha Hanna was named her successor. In 1992 The Human Race finished negotiations with Actor’s Equity, the union for professional actors and stage managers. Thus began the practice of combining the region’s professional artists with visiting artists from Chicago, New York and other areas.

There have been many premieres over the years: And That’s My Story by Tony Dallas, Mother Russia by Jeffrey Hatcher, Wild Blue created and produced for the Inventing Flight celebration as well as the Musical Theatre Workshop that continues today. There have also been many partnerships over the years: The Phoenix Theatre of Indianapolis, Dayton Philharmonic, Dayton Ballet, Victoria Theatre Association, Wright State University and Rhythm In Shoes, just to name a few.

Additionally, Executive Director Kevin Moore, Artistic Director Marsha Hanna, Resident Artists Scott Stoney, Kay Bosse, Carol Lee and Barbara Meece as well as Resident Lighting Designer John Rensel have all been inducted into the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame. In 2010, Kevin Moore and Marsha Hanna received the 2010 Ohio Governor’s Award for Arts Administration.

This year, the company experienced a great loss with the passing of Marsha Hanna. Her rich history with the company and in Dayton will live on forever.

If you haven’t experienced the Human Race Theatre Company lately you really are missing out on a gem in the Gem City. It’s been 25 years — shouldn’t you be a part of something so important to our community? Become a subscriber, support the organization, or simply see a show. You won’t regret it.

Reach DCP theatre critic Brian P. Sharp at Theatre@DaytonCityPaper.com.

Reach DCP food critic Brian P. Sharp at BrianSharp@DaytonCityPaper.com.


  1. GOD OF CARNAGE runs Sept. 8-25 | Behind the Curtain Cincinnati - September 13, 2011

    […] Dayton City Paper review | […]

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