by David Greig.
Young Vic (The Maria) 66 The Cut SE1 8LZ To 2 November 2013.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat 2.45pm.
Captioned 1 Nov.
Runs 1hr 25min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7922 2922.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 October.
Skilful pathway past tabloid horror-headlines over shootings.
We create ideas but live through experiences. Claire has all the right ideas, as a church minister with a same-sex partner, conducting a community choir. What can be better, or more mundane on a stage bordered by an upright piano or a stack of chairs plus tea-cups with urn?
Until experience sends its shock-wave through her. A young man welcomed in, turns violent, spraying people with bullets (the Breivik Norway shootings are a clear source). Finally he finds Claire and one other woman, asking them which he should shoot with his last bullet. The answer they give’s held back, a matter of moral tension, a final moral challenge to him.
Playwright David Greig avoids a linear approach, recreating the confusion the incident creates in Claire. If the bullets don’t destroy her Choir, her shift to a lugubrious, mystical repertoire sees it falling apart. An apparent nocturnal moment amid nature’s calm turns out a scene of desperation, where one of Rudi Dharmalingan’s characters (beside the killer he becomes all the males Claire encounters; the killer, after all, seems like everyone else until he kills), prevents disaster.
As usual, Greig’s dialogue and dramatic manner respond well to the low-key performance style of Ramin Gray’s production (seen in August at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre). There’s reality rather than theatricality. Emotion comes in key images rather than dialogue or overt characterisation.
Along with multiple inserted viewpoints on the killer, his own comments swiftly etch the different disturbance in his own mind, the remorselessly logical-seeming pathway to destruction. It’s contained in the speculation framing The Events: what, he wonders, as he stands at the door of his own terra incognita, the choir’s hall, was the reaction when a native Australian first saw the first British convict ships arrive?
In form and dialogue the play represents the instinctive springing of ideas and responses to events. The never-quite ordered choir chairs suggest an off-centre world, while Rudi Dharmalingan expresses the hidden agitation behind silence and unresponsiveness while Neve McIntosh gives clarity to Claire’s search for meaning behind the boy’s action – and in a world where such events happen.
The Boy: Rudi Dharmalingan.
Claire: Neve McIntosh.
+ a Choir each night.
Director: Ramin Gray.
Designer: Chloe Lamford.
Lighting: Charles Balfour.
Sound: Alex Caplen.
Dramaturgs: Oda Ratoor, Brigitte Auer.