The Events by David Grieg. Directed by Clare Watson. Belvoir St Theatre. May 12 – June 12.
That the final Sydney performance of The Events was sadly followed by Orlando and the killing of British MP Jo Cox only serves to prove the play’s relevance. It’s by no means the last word on the subject of such events but it stirs the thinking.
Claire, a vicar (Catherine McClements) survives the slaughter of her choir by a lone gunman (Johnny Carr) and searches desperately for the reasons and for any meaning in what happened.
McClements gives an absorbing performance as Claire deals with everything from her own shock and grief to her ongoing attempt to understand any possible causes for what has happened. Carr deftly plays a range of characters including the shooter. The intense and sometimes surreal debate between Claire and the young killer becomes the focus of the play and ultimately it is only debate because there seem to be no answers. Which makes it all the more desperate.
The choir in the story is represented each performance by a local choir. (At the last performance on June 12 this was One World Choral) That’s at once a risk and a strength. The strength is the naturalistic truth of that choir as it assembles, chatting, before the show, and as it sings. The risk is that its style is not that of the actors nor of the script. The gently active presence of Luke Byrne at the piano sometimes makes it hard to see who is running the choir, him or the vicar. The theatrical mix is occasionally awkward.
But the heart of The Events is where it ought to be, wrestling with the dilemma of human actions.