July 09, 2012
"God of Carnage" Effect: All it takes is oatmeal and ingenuity
Long story short from Jessica Goldstein's June 13 Washington Post article: Washington D.C.'s Signature Theatre production of "God of Carnage" had to produce a reasonable facsimile of upchucking every night.
Fair warning: Here's your chance to stop reading before it gets more explicit.
Everyone else, here's how they do it, as described by excerpts from the piece.
You should probably know before reading this column that we are about to go into a serious discussion about the logistics of vomit.
This is not just your regular, run-of-the-mill, somebody-hold-my-hair-back-so-I-can-boot-and-rally kind of throwing-up experience. This is purging projectile-style. Long-distance retching. Perhaps the right verb is "spewing."
In Signature Theatre's production of "God of Carnage" by Yasmina Reza, actress Vanessa Lock's character, with husband in tow, is trying to apologize to another couple whose child her son punched on the playground. About 15 minutes into the performance at the Arlington theater, Lock throws up all over the victim’s parents' living room.
At ease, front-row ticketholders: It is not real puke! It is a concoction created by Aly Geisler, prop master. Geisler reveals her secret cocktail: two baby food containers of peas, four cups of water and a half-serving of oatmeal.
In case you are wondering how such a feat is accomplished, one garden-hose-type tube runs from a pressurized tank behind the scenery up the back of a skintight bodysuit Lock wears beneath her costume. The tube ends right at Lock's wrist and comes pre-loaded with oatmeal.
"We started with cream of wheat, but it was too viscous," explained Geisler. "Our electric valve didn't have enough power to turn it off. It was like a waterfall of never-ending vomit."
Why don't you work on that visual for a second while Lock describes the purpose this serves in the plot? "I think what that does is it frees up all four of us. It pushes us into another relationship, because I’ve exposed so much of myself," she said. "I sort of vomit all that out and, okay, now we're going to show who we really are."
Back to the engineering: Lock, all juiced up with the oatmeal tube, sits on the couch and plugs herself into a hidden tube in the sofa. This tube is connected to the tank at one end and the couch cushion at the other. When Lock flips a switch, Geisler said, "the air and peas go rushing through. The peas come forward, and the force of that pushes the oatmeal and the peas out."
Lock insists that "the 'ick' factor" is more on her castmates than on her; she gets to run offstage and wash her face while they’re left to mop up the mess. Though this is not to suggest she emerged from the experience unscathed: "I like pea soup," she said. "But I don’t know that I'll eat pea soup again anytime soon."
Caption for Scott Suchman's photo up top: "Vanessa Lock gets violently sick on cue in 'God of Carnage,' with the help of Aly Geisler's special recipe."
July 9, 2012 at 04:01 PM | Permalink
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Kate Winslet in Polanski's "Carnage" did not limit herself to mere cushion powered imitation. She literally puked all over the scene:
Posted by: Tomasso | Jul 10, 2012 6:49:10 AM
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