Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Thursday, 23 June 2016
The Events, June 22, 2016 **1/2
THEATRE By David Greig, Malthouse Theatre
co-production with Belvoir and State Theatre Company of South Australia (STCSA)
Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse,
until July 10, 2016 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: **1/2
Review also published in print in Herald Sun Arts. (May not be online in Herald Sun) KH
Johnny Carr & Catherine McClements & choir- photo by Pia Johnson
The horrors experienced
by a small community when a demented killer invades its normally safe space to
murder its members are all too topical, given the spate of mass shootings
The Events, by English playwright, David Greig, depicts
Claire (Catherine McClements), an Anglican minister who struggles with despair
and incomprehension after her church choir suffers a mass shooting at the hands
of a young man, known in the play only as The Boy (Johnny Carr).
is the highlight
of this production and she portrays with nuance and sensitivity Claire’s
bewilderment, anxiety and disorientation as she wrestles with her own demons
while trying to understand the inconceivable violence that drove The Boy to
murder her congregation.
Carr depicts not only The Boy but
also a range of other characters – a journalist, a right-wing politician, a
counsellor, The Boy’s father and Claire’s partner, Katrina – that serve the dramatic
role of assisting Claire in her quest for truth.
Greig’s script requires an on-stage
choir, so Clare Watson’s production introduces a different, Melbourne choir each
night to join the actors, perform several choral songs and play a variety of
On opening night, THECHO!R,
with musical director Jonathon Welch, features as the on stage choir that gives
some sense of community and fills the stage with humanity.
With their live piano
accompaniment, the choir’s hymns and other tunes provide warmth to this story
that, otherwise, chills to the bone.
The intention of the play is
admirable, but it lacks dramatic tension and fails to adequately penetrate or
illuminate Claire’s predicament or The Boy’s story.
The dislocated, episodic
structure may be intended to mirror Claire’s own inner chaos, but it ends up
merely being fragmented and lacking coherence, depth and genuine emotional
connection with the characters.
The production is patchy, the
script is flabby and the dialogue awkward, particularly when the choir members
are required to communicate with Claire and The Boy or speak in unison.
The role of the choir is confused
and lacking clarity when they are not singing, at which times they sound
under-rehearsed rather than authentically fresh, the latter probably being the
director’s original intention.
Strangely, the script includes
plenty of talk about emotions, empathy, healing, forgiveness and even revenge,
but little genuine sympathy is generated for the characters, except in the
final scene when Claire meets the killer.
Claire’s angst, despair and mania
are resolved rather too quickly and conveniently in the last scene after her
compulsive quest for the truth.
The dramatic investigation of
mass shootings is an admirable aim for a new play but The Events misses its
mark in too many ways.