Writer: David Grieg
Music: John Browne
Director: Ramin Gray
Reviewer: Lou Flaxman
Before it opened at The Traverse this summer, David Grieg’s play caused some commotion, as it was announced that he had written a piece- complete with songs- inspired by the mass shooting in Norwary carried out by Anders Brevik.
No such controversy hangs over its arrival at The Young Vic, as it garnered an impressive spread of reviews and won a Fringe First Award in Edinburgh, proving itself to be a far more complex and intelligence exploration of human nature than the lurid headlines suggested.
Claire (Neve McIntosh), the priest of an unnamed seaside town, struggles to deal with the aftermath of a man walking into her parish choir rehearsal and randomly shooting some of its members. Rudy Dharmalingam as Boy plays a hoard of characters, from Claire’s partner Catriona, to an aboriginal boy gazing out to sea, to the incarcerated gunman. McIntosh’s performance is impressive, sensitively depicting a woman scrabbling to reassemble the scraps of a life left ruined by an act of random destruction. Dharmalingam is eminently watchable as a cast of supporting characters, although he often reverts back to an arch dryness that begins to feel familiar.
A different community choir joins the two actors on stage each night, providing the musical backdrop which ranges from a choral arrangement of Dizzee Rascals’ Bonkers to a Norwegian folk song. A powerful reminder of the strength of communities brought together, the choir guides us through the eclectic repertoire with a commitment and ease that is, ultimately, deeply moving.
Ramin Gray’s stark and distinctly contemporary production sets the actors in a barely furnished room, the cement walls and large double doors of the theatre space visible, reminiscent of a village hall. Piles of blue chairs are stacked and unstacked throughout the play, reminding us of the day to day responsibilities that carry on in the wake of enormous atrocities.
A fascinating and subtle examination of how a community endures suffering and anguish, The Events may not conceal any earth-shattering revelations about human nature, but it is an honest and brave exploration of community resilience.