The Events is effectively a two hander, examining one woman’s attempt to make sense of a horrific crime she has been a victim of. Dramatic and provocative, it’s USP is every performance features a different community choir – at once musical accompaniment and Greek chorus – on stage throughout, to add another dimension to its storytelling.
In a lot of ways it is a perfect play for the Everyman stage. Experimental, yet with the local community making it work, it is an effective showcase of the egalitarian nature of the new space. Amanda Drew – last seen as Blanche DuBois at the Playhouse – plays Claire, a minister in charge of a choir who is coming apart at the seams and trying to heal after a senseless mass shooting. Clare’s fatigue and devastation is written in Drew’s face as well as the performance; as ever, she is an immensely impressive actress to watch.
Clifford Samuel shines as The Boy – and several other characters, including Claire’s yurt-making lesbian partner (the play is littered with similarly flippant gags and devices that at times threaten to undo the interesting climate it builds up). Samuel is also a very captivating performer, even when it is not immediately clear what character is coming to the fore or why they are important.
David Greig’s writing – apparently inspired by mass murderer Anders Breivik – is strong, darkly funny and realistic, but occasionally cries out a little too much for attention and creaks under its own importance. A lot is down to the audience to figure out as Claire makes her journey around the people she hopes can help her – The Boy’s father, a writer who was said to have influenced him – and pushes away her lover.
Two fine performances keep The Events a thrilling watch and the use of the choir (on this occasion, Up for Arts) and pianist Magnus Gilljam elevate things considerably. An Edinburgh Fringe hit with a successful run at the Young Vic behind it, it is a chance to see one of last year’s most talked about theatre productions right on the doorstep.