Her Majesty’s Theatre, Sat 27 Feb
This courageous and sobering work from award-winning Scottish writer David Grieg, addresses the unimaginable struggle that must follow mindless acts of violence, as massacre survivors strive to put their shattered lives back together.
Presented by State Theatre Company of SA, Belvoir and Malthouse Theatre, Catherine McClements plays Claire, a priest desperate to make sense of the massacre that killed many members of her choir. The play opens with a local choir, on this occasion, La La Land, wandering onto the stage as if for a rehearsal. The premise includes the audience as part of the ‘community’ and Claire addresses us as if we may be interested in joining the choir.
Johnny Carr, who plays the killer, known only as The Boy, and many other roles throughout the story, also enters through the auditorium like a visitor.
The choir’s beautiful singing throughout the show adds another dimension to the, sometimes confusing, story as we learn about Claire and how her obsession to understand the shooter’s reasoning infects her life and relationships.
This play has many good elements, and some enjoyably light-hearted moments, whilst dealing with shocking subject matter. Both actors work well within this complex piece, sometimes including musical director, Carol Young and choir members in small, featured parts.
Playing multiple characters is always a challenge and Johnny Carr competently covers a huge cast. Sometimes though, he lacks the necessary shifts in physicality, voice or energy to allow easy identification of each character, especially across gender, causing confusion for the audience.
Catherine McClements embodies Claire beautifully in all her swings from questing for compassion to fantasising ruthless revenge. Unfortunately, the piece tended to skim over the top of Claire’s striving and there was no defining moment that revealed the depth of emotion needed to give it a denouement in the final scene.
To then have Johnny Carr walk to the front of the stage as himself to introduce the choir, was bewildering and severed all sense of connection to the characters so hard-earned throughout the play. Strange choice.
The Events continues at Her Majesty’s Theatre, at various times, until Sat 5 Mar.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Image courtesy of Shane Reid