In the final week of a globetrotting tour, The Events remains David Greig’s and Ramin
Gray’s shattering masterpiece, writes Benjamin Monk
The Events does not investigate, as widely reported, the Anders Breivik shootings. The far-right militant killed 77 people—likewise, this play probes an imagined response to a mass shooting at a church hall. Before this, Scottish playwright David Greig was best-known for Dunsinane, an ambitious sequel to Macbeth, and it is unsurprising that a similar theme of clan identity emerges. But The Events goes further, electrifyingly utilising Greig’s fierce intelligence to interrogate society’s sentimental desire to understand a terrorist’s reasoning.
It is choirmaster Claire’s (Derbhle Crotty) insatiable pursuit of information over an acceptance of a terrorist’s humanity that drives the piece. She effectively spars with the multi-roling Clifford Samuel, playing all other characters including the killer, a far-right politician and, most humorously, Sharman Dave from Leeds. Both performers offer deep poignancy against the piece’s intensity, but it is the visceral power of a daily-changing choir that connects the play’s limited fictionalised scope to reality.
As non-actors, She Choir gave a honest naïvety to the impending action, becoming an essential device for audience assimilation into the community. Director Ramin Gray, of the Actors Touring Company, didactically has their harmonies reflect both organised religion and a primal, ritualistic ceremony. Fusing the dual perceptions of a unified, all-female choir and a tribe, Gray powerfully reflects that a primitive, outsider origin always persists, however acculturating a community acts.
As a microcosm of a willingly distracted society that caused the terrorist’s formation, the invitation to join the ‘crazy tribe’ and sing at the conclusion was harrowing. Whilst providing euphoria as a ‘real’ choir outside of The Events, their sustained function was to question the emotionally cathartic indulgences of contemporary society when faced with deceptively anomalous evil. Despite this, astonishingly, audience members still sung along—society, it seems, will never be free of culture’s distracting exhilaration.