Tuesday, 15 October 2013
Theatre review: The Events
The play is really Claire's attempt to understand, or if not at least to learn how to live with what The Boy did, and her place in his story. Dharmalingam voices the clues to his actions that The Boy left behind on his website, but also takes on all the characters trying to help Claire get on with her life.
At a couple of points in its middle section The Events drags a bit, the story feeling as if it's circling a conclusion before ramping up again, but that's pretty much all I have to say against it. A slightly confusing opening just makes it more satisfying when the structure starts to fall into place, and Greig begins to explore what it's like to deal with grief when it's tied in with such incomprehension.
What gives Gray's production its power is largely its restraint. On a minimalist set from Chloe Lamford evoking a village hall, McIntosh is understated in her grief and confusion, rarely erupting at those around her so that she seems a woman almost in a trance, giving her increasingly desperate actions a kind of inevitability. And where playing multiple characters, occasionally with the intention of lightening the tone, might have been a temptation to show off, Dharmalingam holds back and subtly distinguishes between the parts he's playing - which has the added effect of emphasising the play's conclusion that the distinction between "normal" people and those who could commit atrocities is almost impossible to see.
The presence of the choir, singing a mix of sea shanties, hymns and new compositions by John Browne, allows the actors to hold back like this by emotionally underscoring the action, with an added poignancy lent by the way a choir features in the story and their interactions with it. Greig's play is restrained and moving, not making light of tragedy but emphasising the importance of moving on.
The Events by David Greig is booking until the 2nd of November at the Young Vic's Maria; then continuing on tour to Hull, Bristol, Birmingham and Plymouth.
Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes straight through.