CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me," goes the classic children's rhyme. But The Charleston Stage Company's production of "God of Carnage," reminds us that people often underestimate the power of words. One needs only to turn on the news or pick up the newspaper to witness numerous accounts of everyday human encounters escalating -- often to the point of violence -- over a handful of carelessly delivered words. "God of Carnage" illustrates how a seemingly innocent situation can devolve into chaos within the span of a few hours. The play's storyline, set in modern-day Brooklyn, involves two pairs of parents who meet to discuss how to handle a situation after one couple's child hurts the other's while playing at the park. Polite, civil conversation unravels, and allegiances are formed and then broken between each of the four adults as time wears on. The single-set, one-act play features a modest cast of four: Greg Harpold and Bethany Cline as Michael and Veronica Novak; and Rob Boone and Kim Javins as Alan and Annette Raleigh. The adults slide from rational to hysterical as the discussion about their children deteriorates into finger-pointing and shouting matches over minor annoyances that have nothing to do with the kids. A constantly ringing phone, a bottle of rum and a missing hamster figure prominently in the offbeat storyline as well. The conflict raises an existential question: Can a civilized culture escape its savage roots? "I believe in a God of Carnage," Alan professes in the midst of the chaos. The ratcheting tension is at times enough to make the audience squirm, but somber moments are balanced by a liberal dose of laughter in this black comedy, which was translated from the French play, "Le Dieu du Carnage," by Yasmina Reza. A film adaptation, titled, "Carnage," was also released in 2011, and directed by Roman Polanski. The production is brief, clocking in at less than 90 minutes. Attendees should be aware there is adult language. "God of Carnage" continues at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 18 through 19 and Jan. 24 through 26 at the West Virginia State University Capitol Center Theatre. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. Tickets may be purchased at the door or by calling 304-343-5272. Reach Mackenzie Mays at email@example.com or 304-348-4814.