Alan, Veronica, Michael and Annette are definitely not nice people, and that's what makes Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage a perennial theater favorite. New Village Arts' production directed by Jessica Bird features a delightfully feisty cast. Manny Fernandes and Kristianne Kurner are Alan and Annette Raleigh, whose son hit with a stick (thereby paving the way for all the "carnage" to come) the son of Michael and Veronica Novak, exquisitely portrayed by Jeffrey Keith Jones and Melissa Fernandes.
The pace at NVA drags a little in the first 15 minutes or so of this 75-minute black comedy, but once all civility is forsaken and sheer hell is unleashed, God of Carnage, as it always does, finds its nasty-spirited stride. Melissa Fernandes' lecturing but ignitable Veronica is ever at the forefront of the fracases, whether they're between the two couples or between the husbands and wives. Carnage's infamous projectile vomiting moment, which not even the luminous Kate Winslet in the 2011 film adaptation could prevent from turning your stomach, is rather mild in this production. It still gets horrified laughs, though, as does the hapless "cleanup." Now that's entertainment.
God of Carnage runs through Nov. 13 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. $33-$36; newvillagearts.org
Watching writers write just isn't exciting, which is why the writers in Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor don't spend much time doing so on stage. Instead, their brainstorming for "The Max Prince Show" is diverted by put-downs, clashes of ego, mutual confrontations with personal and mutual insecurities, and unapologetic slapstick. Much of the latter comes from their boss, played at North Coast Rep by its artistic director, David Ellenstein. Simon's thinly veiled reminiscence of his salad days working on Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows is sweet and silly, as is this production directed by Tom Markus. Everyone overplays his or her hand to an extent, though both Phil Johnson and Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper, as two of the writers, succeed with restraint and reaction, too. Laughter isn't as cutesy as some of Simon's better-known plays, and that's also for the best.
Laughter on the 23rd Floor runs through Nov. 20 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. $43-$50. northcoastrep.org
The Cocktail Hour: An affluent New England family’s reunion is hilariously shaken up when one of the sons reveals he’s written a script that hits a little too close to home. Directed by Randall Hickman, it opens Oct. 27 at the Broadway Theatre in Vista. broadwayvista.biz
Baby with the Bathwater: Playwright Christopher Durang explores the pitfalls and hilarity of first-time parenthood in this relatable comedy. Presented by Oceanside Theater Company, it opens Oct. 28 at the Brooks Theatre in Oceanside. oceansidetheatre.org
Bad Seed: Maxwell Anderson’s thriller about a little girl who may have a dark side. Directed by Kristen Fogle, it opens Oct. 28 Lamplighter’s Community Theatre in La Mesa. lamplighterslamesa.com
Blue: Blue is a clown who is picked on in the circus in this children’s touring show written and directed by Jerry Hager. It opens Oct. 28 for three performances at the Grossmont College Theatre in El Cajon. grossmont.edu
The Lion: Benjamin Scheuer’s acclaimed one-man-show rock ‘n’ roll musical about his life. Directed by Sean Daniels, it runs through Oct. 30 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Lizard Boy: A disfigured gay boy, who had always been afraid to be seen in public, sets out on a rock ‘n’ roll musical adventure with help from his new Grindr friend Cary. Written by Justin Huertas, it runs through Oct. 30 at the Diversionary Theatre in Hillcrest. diversionary.org
ART: Yasmina Reza’s Tony-winning comedy about three pals whose friendship is tested when one buys an expensive piece of modern art. Presented by Intrepid Theatre Company, it runs through Nov. 6 at the Horton Grand Theatre in the Gaslamp. intrepidtheatre.org
Seven Guitars: Set in ’40s Pittsburgh, this comical mystery centers on a blues guitarist who dies just as his career is about to take off. Written by August Wilson and presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through Nov. 6 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
King Hedley II: A man recently released from prison struggles to reclaim his life, family and community. Written by August Wilson and presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through Nov. 6 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
Disgraced: Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer-winning drama about a Muslim man who hosts a dinner party for his African-American co-worker and his Jewish wife, only to have the dinner go horribly wrong. Presented by San Diego Repertory Theatre, it runs through Nov. 13 at the Lyceum Stage in the Gaslamp. sdrep.org
Laughter on the 23rd Floor: Neil Simon’s comedy about his early days in live television working with the likes of Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks. Directed by Tom Markus, it runs through Nov. 13 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org
God of Carnage: In Yasmina Reza’s comedy, two sets of parents tussle after their kids get into a playground fight. Directed by Jessica Bird, it runs through Nov. 20 at the New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org
November: David Mamet’s biting political comedy about an inept, outgoing U.S. president who has put the office up for sale. Directed by Steve Murdock, it runs through Nov. 19 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. onstageplayhouse.info
Equivocation: A playwright named “Shagspeare” is forcibly commissioned by the King to write the definitive history of the Gunpowder Plot in Bill Cain’s acclaimed who-done-it. Directed by Deborah Gilmour Smyth, it runs through Nov. 20 at the Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
Miss You Like Hell: In this world premiere musical, a teenage girl sets out on a road trip with her free-spirited Latina mother. Written by Erin McKeown, it runs through Dec. 4 at the La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org