Our reviewer describes The Events as “a show I experienced in my stomach.”
The most disturbing truth about bad events is the impossibility victims face in trying to make it make sense. Piecing together every single, marginal component of the world, just trying to understand.
One heart-aching performance later, there is the sad realization there is no logic to be found.
The play, written by David Greig, was inspired by the 2011 Norway shootings.
Clair (Raven Dauda), a priest, is a victim of a mass shooting. While leading the community choir (played in this performance by City Choir, but changes each night), she is repeatedly visited by the Boy (Kevin Walker) and becomes obsessed with understanding why it happened.
Under the direction of Alan Dilworth, The Events is a show where stillness says more than motion. Often the characters stand still, speaking to one another.
The stage itself seems too big for this production, swamping some of the scenes with empty space. Yet, somehow, all of it comes together in a way that felt intentional to me.
When it comes to making the most of a slight movement, it takes an actor like Dauda to pack so much punch into the tiniest action. You can tell from the smallest shift in her stance exactly what Claire is feeling. Quiet, angry, frustrated, and fascinated, Dauda is a must-watch performance in and of herself.
Walker, in contrast, never gets the chance to settle into his characters. Tasked with being the shooter, Catriona (Claire’s partner), and every other person Claire tracks down in her quest to understand, Walker flips between characters in ways that, at times, I found confusing.
For example, in an early scene, when he switches from speaking to Claire as the Boy, to speaking to her as Catriona, I struggled to understand the change until the script explicitly stated who it was.
I think it’s the static nature of Dilworth’s direction, and the fluidity of the scene changes that leaves Walker slightly disadvantaged. I suspect it’s that there’s no real pause or break between character changes to give indication he is playing a new character that left me confused.
Walker does, however, play the characters very differently. Catriona is kind and gentle, whereas the Boy is pointed. He enunciates his words carefully and shows a young man ready to burst with violence. It’s simply that Walker never gets the time to breathe in his characterizations.
Luckily, that’s a small complaint that doesn’t take away from the whole experience.
And it is an experience.
Between the live choir that occasionally provides accompaniment to scenes and the light design by Kimberley Purtell, you get some very haunting sequences.
One of my favourite scenes is Clair holding the Boy, the choir in shadows at the back, and a spotlight on them. When you watch it play out, Dauda’s staring intently into the audience as she speaks, it sends shivers down your spine.
It’s an affecting show. The audience was so quiet. I could hear clearly those on-stage who were not projecting with no trouble.
The Events isn’t easy to watch with its terrible subject matter. I’m not even personally sure if it tackles it’s subject in a unique way, Instead, this was a show I experienced in my stomach.
I didn’t leave thinking I wanted to analyze it. I left feeling like I needed to go home and think about how it made me feel.
It was good even if it was so, so sad.
- The Events plays at the Streetcar Crowsnest Theatre (345 Carlaw Avenue) until March 15
- Shows run Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30 pm and Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2:00 pm
- Tickets range from $20 – $60. See site for details
- Tickets can be purchased in-person at the Streetcar Crowsnest box office 2 hours prior to the performance, by phone at 647 341 7390 ext. 1010, or online here
- Audience Warning: show contains mature subject matter, discussions of violence, threats of sexual violence
Photo of Raven Dauda and Kevin Walker by Dahlia Katz