By Laura Money
The Events is one of the most exquisite pieces of theatre Black Swan State Theatre Company has ever staged. Its simple, pared back staging and acting is elegant; its music is sublime, and its sensibility and writing is near perfect. This is intelligent theatre at its best. Director (and Artistic Director of Black Swan) Clare Watson is no stranger to the piece having previously directed it in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide and her knowledge and skills are clearly on show in her rendition of The Events here.
The staging is simple – a choir gathers on a raised stage, piano in the corner, table with tea urn and cups with biscuits and tea paraphernalia, stacked community hall chairs. It feels so real, when Claire (Catherine McClements) runs in haphazardly from behind the seats calling out her apology for being late and inviting an unknown man lurking in the back of the hall to join in, one can be forgiven for thinking she is talking to you. McClements is a truly mesmerising performer – her character Claire is a progressive vicar who runs a church choir and is trying to move on from a mass shooting that occurred in her previous vicarage. Her hands tremble slightly as she holds a cup of tea, her pacing becomes erratic as she tries to outrun her memories, and her face slips into ecstatic lunacy as she gets closer to understanding why the shooter did what he did.
Accompanying McClements is Johnny Carr who plays The Boy (who committed the mass shooting) and also all of the incidental characters in the play. He vacillates between comforting Claire as her partner, her therapist, giving a voice to the shooter as his father, and people who knew him, and even a stranger who helps Claire out of a tough situation. By playing all of the roles, we see how Claire’s obsession colours everything she sees – she cannot get The Boy out of her head. Carr portrays each character well, switching seamlessly from accent to accent, male to female, to everything he needs to be. His characterisation of The Boy himself is inspired – part Youtube/home video manifesto and part lecture, Carr delivers frenzied rants on male aggression, rites of passage and the idea of literally going berserk.
Threading throughout the entire performance is the wonderfully healing music of the live choir. Each night it is a different choir (this night was Rhythmos) which brings a different interpretation of the work each time. The music is wonderful – it sounds like the soundtrack to a Scandinavian Indy film and provides incredibly emotional waves of understanding that tie the action together with the dialogue. And it’s not just a case of sit in the back and sing – the choir is part of the show – an integral third character that helps connect with The Boy and gives sanity to Claire. McClements’ enthusiasm when ‘conducting’ the choir is infectious and the whole stage buzzes!
The Events is a truly wonderful work. It really covers everything – from understanding the mind of a mass shooter/lone wolf figure, to examining the minutiae of obsession that manifests in survivor’s guilt, to how a community heals and what a community means. Clare Watson’s direction is sublime and both actors are a joy to watch. If you want a show that challenges and questions, go see it. If you want a show that heals and saves, go see it. And if you want a show that sounds amazing and looks phenomenal go see it.
Review | Laura Money
WHEN: 21 June – 8 July 2018 | 8:00pm
WHERE: Studio Underground | State Theatre Centre WA | PERTH
INFO: Tickets $35 – $50 | Duration 75 mins | No interval | Warning: adult themes, gun violence | Suitable 16+