Theater

Violence Solo: The Events Takes on Risky Matters but Hedges Its Bets

by

Don’t wonder what an eighteenth-century Aborigine is doing in a play inspired by the mass shooting on Norway’s Utøya Island that killed 77 people in 2011. He is Exhibit A in the case for multiculturalism that is David Greig’s The Events, which London’s Actors Touring Company is staging at the New York Theater Workshop. This diffuse, sometimes powerful production revolves around Claire, a lesbian minister/choir director whose ethnically diverse flock has been mowed down by a young man with a rifle and a far-right agenda.

Greig, who traveled to Norway and based Claire on a real vicar there, can’t
decide where his focus should lie: the actual massacre and its context, the fictional pastor’s acute PTSD, a politically correct critique of xenophobia (that Aborigine’s first encounter with Europeans), or the notion of forgiveness. And if you don’t remember that Anders Breivik claimed his rampage was in retaliation for the Norwegian Labor Party’s pro-immigration policies, you’ll be even more hard-pressed to connect the dots.

As the guilt-ridden Claire, Neve McIntosh forms a tightly wound duo with a versatile Clifford Samuel in the roles of everyone else: the killer, Claire’s lover, various shamans and psychiatrists….Ramin Gray’s muscular direction gives a kick to the bland plea for inclusion made by a volunteer choir (new at every performance). But like the legalese of its title, The Events dilutes both meaning and relevance in rhetorical flourishes that neither reality nor fiction, politics nor poetry, can resolve.