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Constructing luxury on a regional theater budget for ‘God of Carnage’

On the “God of Carnage’’ set, the table is part foam and some books are waterproof. BARRY CHIN/GLOBE STAFF

The production of “God of Carnage’’ at the Huntington Theatre Company presents a double challenge for properties master Kristine Holmes. First, the entire set is designed to emit an air of opulence, which is difficult to produce on a budget of $4,500. Second, the characters destroy the place every night, so all the props must be easily cleaned to look pristine for the next performance. “I learn something new every day, and I never use it again,’’ Holmes says. Here are some of the tricks she employs to create the illusion of grandeur.

Art books: The script refers to rare art monographs that are placed meticulously on the living room coffee table. Problem is, one of the characters vomits all over the books, so they need to be waterproof. The books (which Holmes borrowed from the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis) are made of foam, with copies of the original covers glued to the front. They are wrapped in clear Contact paper and Tyvek, the industrial material used in construction.


Coffee table made from petrified wood: Holmes had a hunk of wood on hand, but it was too small. She fashioned a giant table out of foam and plywood and covered it with four coats of fiberglass resin and then painted it brown. From the audience, it looks like the real deal - and it wipes clean.

Hallway lighting fixture: Scenic designer Dane Laffrey asked for a specific lamp from The Future Perfect, an online designer boutique, but the fixture would have cost $3,300. Holmes fashioned an imitation out of a glass globe from another lighting fixture and glued on clear Christmas ornaments. She painted the whole thing brown, and the result resembles a sort of high-end Mickey Mouse chandelier - or a toy in a hamster habitat.