The Events – A Tale of Dangerous Obsession
19th – 20th March 2014
A grisly event has taken place. A boy has walked into a small community choir and shot several members dead. In a nightmarish aftermath, Claire, the village priest and choir master, has only one question, and it’s taking over her life. Why?
Is he mad? Psychopathic? Evil? Through the prism of Claire’s increasingly dangerous obsession, the play examines the nature of atrocity and attempts to unpick the psyche of both perpetrator and victim. As Claire suffers under the weight of the events that have unfolded, she is gripped by a destructive desire to fathom the unfathomable. We wait to see how she will emerge at the other end. Will she condemn? Will she forgive? Will she kill?
The play could well have been yet another standardised “mad or monster” yawn-fest. But flying in the face of expectation, David Greig’s latest offering is restrained and sensitive. A split second before a monologue too lengthy gets the better of you, you’re snapped back from the brink by a deafening rendition of Dizzee Rascal’s “Bonkers”. Or by the boy, who, inebriated by some sort of herbal tea, struts across the stage like a cat and onto the top of a piano, before suddenly he is Claire’s simpering girlfriend. The play boasts a solid arsenal of weird and wonderful moments to jolt an unsuspecting audience to life.
At every location there is a different local choir, whose chorus breathes life into the play, and lends a real emotional weight. You can’t help but feel that the choir is almost as new to all of this as the audience. There is an endearing “We’ve been roped into this” quality lingering in the ranks, most notable when they take a turn for the tribal and indulge in a session of vigorous dancing and chanting around the stage.
The scene changes work well to hold your interest. Blink and you’ll miss it, as the boy seamlessly switches between psychologist, perpetrator, Claire’s girlfriend, the shooters dad, his best friend.
The only two professional actors on the stage are Amanda Drew, who plays Claire, and Clifford Samuel who plays the shooter and other characters. The actors hold together what could otherwise easily drift into the cliché, the poncey or the indecipherable. The play is very nearly these things, but in the end is anything but, as it expertly juxtaposes the deeply serious, gruesome and tragic, with the humorous, lively,surreal and unexpected. It strikes a good balance of light and dark, wordyness and physicality as it muddles its way to success. Ultimately it is a serious and moving examination of atrocity and humanity, dealt with sensitively and sensibly.
*N.B – The above picture does not show the Brighton version of the show.