The Events at the Young Vic
David Greig received huge praise for The Events when it premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe back in August. Now, with backing from the ATC, the Young Vic is hosting the play – billed as a reaction to Anders Brevik’s mass-killing in Norway in 2011.
It’s a rather minimalistic production, centred around a lesbian priest and choir leader, Claire (Neve McIntosh), who is the lone survivor of an apparently unanticipated shooting committed by The Boy (Rudi Dharmalingam). In a surreal setup, The Boy is representative of several characters – a killer, a psychologist, a father, a politician – with whom Claire interacts in an attempt to make peace with the events and repair her broken soul.
The entire dialogue is conducted in the presence of a choir, eagerly spectating and occasionally playing out their role with musical offerings. The choir are as real as can be – in fact, the production recruits a different local group for each performance. This may seem unnecessary, but the choir’s unfamiliarity with “the events” makes their reactions and behaviours onstage absorbingly authentic. They really are onlookers to this abstract exchange.
The message of the play is not groundbreaking: a lonely, bullied orphan of a suicidal mother and alcoholic father perpetrates a terrible crime as a demonstration of masculinity and objection to inferiority brought about by multiculturalism and the “softness” of modern living. However, against the bare walls of The Maria, McIntosh and Dharmalingam prove their acting worth with outstanding performances – definitely required with a script that has more words than action.
The Events is certainly a fearless effort to question responses to evil acts such as Brevik’s, but the finality is missing. What we are left with is a conglomeration of intellectualisms and profundity that raises more questions than it answers.
The Events is at the Young Vic until 2nd November 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the choir perform a scene from The Events here: