The Events at The Peacock Theatre

November 4, 2013


David Grieg’s The Events, which ended it’s sold out run at The Peacock on Saturday, was almost unfathomably good. Inspired by massacres in Dumblane and Norway, this overwhelming production explored the life of the survivor in a world that had revealed its true colours, neither black nor white but a multitude of greys.

It made no attempt to make sense of the senseless, instead exposed the hypocrisies of left wing ideology while exploring the potent and provocative allure of the their brothers in arms to the far right. Much work of this kind is pontification tarted up as art; Ramin Gray’s production never forgot that this was a human experience that happened to human beings. The measured approach that it took in excavating its ideas opened us up to its thoughts rather than playing to our bias or banging on drums.

After a lone gunman shot up a choir comprised of societies most vulnerable subjects, their priest-come-choir mistress Claire (McIntosh) is left trying to fit the pieces of her shattered life back together again. A whirligig of conflicting emotion’s kept in motion by her never ending questions, she tried to respark her deadened soul through ancient spiritual rituals, psychiatry and wild fantasy-anything that will help her understand the man who assassinated her friends.

The performances were flawless. McIntosh played the questions like she didn’t know the answers making her performance stark, dangerous, unnerving, heartening and ultimately devastating. Rudi Dharmalingam, who primarily played the killer but also a string of other people Claire interviews- including the boys father, friend, and his social and political influences- slipped from one character to the next without making any major changes to his body or adapting an array of stage accents. It’s intonation and emphasis on words that unraveled the characters state of mind and illuminated the debts of Grieg’s work.

“Instead of weeping when a tragedy occurs in a songbird’s life, it sings away its grief.” William Shakespeare believes we would do well to follow the pattern of our feathered friends and here a live local choir accompanied the performers on stage each night. They lightened the mood struck by Claire’s swamping struggle and said what couldn’t be spoken, but you rather wish they had been utilised more than as background music and the occasional line read. When they were mixed in with Dizzy Rascal’s Bonkers a favorite track of the killers, lip synced by Claire, the piece developed an edge one wishes wasn’t quite so muted throughout.

The ending is also both schmaltzy and erratic. But acting this good is a rarity, writing this considered even more so. It’s theatre that continues to reveal itself to the viewer long after it has ended rather than showering us in a hail of relevance.

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