Review: The Events, Young Vic

“If I’m going to make a mark on the world, I have to do it now”

The Events had a curious impact – Ramin Gray’s production for Actors Touring Company has the kind of sinuous mellifluousness that makes it the kind of show that lingers long in the memory, yet David Greig’s actual writing is ultimately a little bit frustrating in the final analysis. The combined effect though is something complicated and complex that takes a unique look at the way in which terrible atrocities affect the communities on which they are inflicted.

Greig has taken inspiration from Anders Breivik’s horrific rampage in Norway back in 2011 as a boy devastates a village choir rehearsal, shooting many of its diverse members dead. But his focus is on the aftermath, the way in which those who survive try to process what happened, as so we see choir leader and priest Claire (Neve McIntosh) searching for answers even though it seems that there may not be any forthcoming.

And that is both the strength and weakness of the show – there could never be any easy explanations and Greig doesn’t try to give any. The only other actor onstage is Rudi Dharmalingam who takes on the role of the boy, but also a range of other characters responding to Claire’s enquiries – her lover, his father, a right-wing politician, medical professionals – and Dharmalingam shifts unnervingly between them all, a mesmerising presence throughout.

The result of keeping us constantly on our toes though is a lack of clarity, it isn’t always abundantly obvious who he is playing and over just 80 minutes, few scenes have the luxury to really breathe, so overladen are they with profound verbosity. Rather, the soul-stirring moments come from the use of a community choir to soundtrack the action with a diverse range of music, providing that link that proves the indestructible power of coming together, whether in song or just to talk. 

Running time: 80 minutes (without interval)
Playtext cost: £5
Booking until 2nd November

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