With age comes rational thinking and reasonable, mature behaviour. That is until something unleashes your inner 10-year-old.

2 pairs of parents, whose boys have been involved in fisticuffs, meet to resolve the conflict amicably in God of Carnage. But what starts off as a civilised discussion quickly degenerates into a childish game of grown-ups fighting grown-ups. (Note: It’s not unlike what happens at the playground.)

If this sounds familiar, you might have caught Carnage, a 2011 Roman Polanski movie starring Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet, based on Christopher Hampton’s English translation of French Playwright Yasmina Reza’s  Le Dieu du Carnage.

Described by the Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) as “a comedy of manners… without the manners”, Reza’s play, which has picked up a Tony and an Olivier award for Best Play, wowed audiences in France, London and New York.

Delivering this dialogue-heavy examination of what happens when social niceties and civil pretences break down are 4 award-winning Asian thespians. Lauded for her magical singing as Disney princesses Mulan and Jasmine, as well as her Tony-award winning West End and Broadway lead turns in Miss Saigon and Les Misérables, Lea Salonga and local funnyman Asian Television Awards winner for Best Actor Adrian Pang are cast as Veronica and Michael. They are the parents of Henry who’s been hit in the face by Benjamin. Benjamin’s parents, Alan and Annette, are played by Arthur T. Acuña, an International-Emmy nominee for his critically acclaimed role in The Kitchen Musical, and the artistic director-actress Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo who has won an impressive string of awards for musical theatre in the Philippines.

Even without breaking into song and taking advantage of their considerable singing talent, the 4 are captivating in their roles, with each character’s differences and eccentricities coming alive despite what little we know of their backstories.

Veronica is the sole upstanding individual, fighting for justice. But we see her virtuous veneer start to crack and as goes on the defensive against supportive husband-turned-juvenile-imp Michael, as her plans for a gracious discussion fall flat.

On the other hand, we have phone-hugger and courtroom shark Alan. The lawyer’s the absentee father-husband who can’t seem to be bothered about the antics of his bullyson, dismissing them as something that can’t be helped, while his polished and diplomatic wife, Annette, crumbles at his harsh and dismissive words. Not surprising, Philippine’s first lady of music theatre, Lauchengco-Yulo makes a fine emotional drunk.

At the same time, while the two boys in question never appear on stage, we do learn bits and pieces of their personality and what led them to violence. From accusations of being a snitch to defamatory statements on sexuality, almost nothing is spared in their parents’ quest to prove that their offspring was nothing but an innocent party.

While the script is full of acerbic wit and sparkles with sarcastic humour, the jokes do take time to set-up and you do have to follow the conversation closely to get the most out of the comedy in this play. There are no one-liners here. But what really makes the play is how the 4 actors take it beyond the dialogue, bringing it to life with slapstick humour and outrageous facial and body expressions. It’s no wonder that the audience was roaring with laughter at every turn, despite the depressing undertones of failing marriages and the disintegration of relationships.

UrbanWire even heard chortles from a respectable-looking elderly lady in the second row. You know you’ve got a winner when you make a sexagenarian snort.

The play truly soars in its uncomfortable moments between not only the 2 pairs of parents, but within each marital relationship. The humour is most prevalent here – Pang’s outlandish facial expressions, Acuña’s scene-stealing clafoutis-stuffing moments, Salonga’s arrogant insistence for decorum and Lauchengco-Yulo’s hammered ramblings.

Awkward moments soon give in to melodramatic scenes of cockamamie disputes between the adults – Veronica vs Michael, Veronica vs Annette, Michael vs Alan, Alan vs Annette, Alan and Michael vs Annette and Veronica, you lose count after a while.

There’s projectile vomit (don’t worry Row A, you don’t need protective gear), toilet humour, pillow fights, amateur psychoanalysis and self-righteousness aplenty. There’s even a smattering of F-bombs (at least 23) and exclamations of defecations (at least 10).

As Alan puts it ever so bluntly: “I believe in the god of carnage. He has ruled, uninterrruptedly, since the dawn of time.”

And if the unflappably refined Lea Salonga dropping an F-bomb or two on stage isn’t proof that, I don’t know what is.

God of Carnage runs till Nov 25, Tues to Sun, 8pm (4pm Sat matinees) at the DBS Arts Centre. Tickets are available from $60 (excl. booking fee) from SISTIC.

Advisory: Recommended for 16-year-olds and above (some coarse language)