Theatre Review: "The Events" deals with tough issues with great sensitivity
Black Swan’s latest play The Events attempts a lot of things, and achieves most of them. Featuring strong performance and the undeniable appeal of a backing community choir (a different one for each show), it has a lot on its mind and knows how to express it.
The play explores the impact of a catastrophic event on a community, seen through the eyes of both a victim and the perpetrator. Claire (Catherine McClements) is the former, a liberal Anglican minister whose community choir endeavour was the target for an angry young man to make his mark on the world. The Boy (Johnny Carr) is the later, whose vision of himself as the protector of his tribe led him to open fire. As Claire becomes more obsessed with understanding what has taken place and what motivated this unspeakable tragedy, she spirals deeper and deeper, as her relationships splinter and faith is challenged. The audience is, at times, left to ponder how different the two really are.
(Images by Daniel J Grant)
The style borrows from all manner of influences, from Greek tragedy to realism to surrealism. The choir is fundamental to this- they sing, they question the characters, they are essential to the plot, and they are fantastic. I was lucky to see Rhythmos fill the role in my outing, and their vocals were pitch-perfect. Major credit should go to musical director Benjamin Hogan for his hand in this. The script often utilises words to create a gut-feeling response, making it quite a visceral and at times confronting play. This is enhanced by some phenomenal acting from the two leads (under the eye of director Clare Watson), who both push their bodies to extremes and create an unsettling mood.
Overall, the messages are sharp and crystal-clear. At a purely plot level, it would have been quite interesting to see Claire grapple with her faith more explicitly at times; it often felt like her position as a vicar was more a placeholder and she could have really been any sort of community leader. This would have also allowed the themes of forgiveness and good and evil to really shine. However, this is really a minor complaint in what was still another brilliant effort from the Black Swan team.
In the wake of the recent Margaret River tragedy, it’s evident these sorts of plays will never be irrelevant. What a relief, then, that these heavy issues are dealt with such nuisance and sensitivity. The Events will take you out of your comfort zone and throw you into a world of confusion and heartache, but you’ll be glad for it.