What: "God of Carnage."
When: 8 p.m. today, Saturday, Oct. 19-20, Oct. 26-27; 7 p.m. Thursday and Oct. 25; 2:30 p.m. Oct. 21 and Oct. 28.
Where: CircleStage, Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River St.
Admission: $30 opening night, $10-$25 all other performances.
It's just a little playground altercation between two 11-year-old boys. It's not World War III. Or is it?
What begins as a civilized meeting between two sets of Brooklyn parents to resolve a little scuffle disintegrates to something else as the rum flows and the evening wears on in "God of Carnage," the dark comedy that opens tonight on the Chattanooga Theatre Centre's CircleStage.
"It's very character-driven," said director Chuck Tuttle, who is also the theater's education director. "The characters are people you know. I deal with a lot of parents, and I've seen them. At times, I've been every last one of them."
The comedy, he said, emerges because the characters may seem a little close to home.
"You laugh," Tuttle said, "at how accurate they are, even though some of it's kind of awful."
The play was written by Yasmina Reza and translated for the stage by Christopher Hampton. The scenario that unfolds, according to Tuttle, is drawn from an incident the playwright was told about.
"It's very down to earth about what parenting is," Tuttle said. "It's ripping away the veneers." It's proof, he said, "we never grow up past high school."
"Just watch Congress."
The play, which takes place in a contemporary setting with no scene changes and no intermission, finds the couples in various alliances -- one couple against the other or the women against the men, for instance -- as the evening wears on.
"It's [a play] about relationships, about families in a dark, comic way," said Tuttle.
In the end, Tuttle said, theatergoers may think of it as "a great self-examination."
"If you think about it, you can get into the shoes of these characters," Tuttle said. "We're all quick to judge, but it's not that cut-and-dried."
The play is not suggested for children.
"It's an adult play for adults," Tuttle said.