27 March 2018
The Events' strong central performances aren't enough to make up for a half-hearted show, says Naomi Obeng
At the core of this production is an existential searching. A woman caught between love and hatred in response to extreme trauma. There’s no rulebook for how she should feel. Written by David Greig and partly inspired by terror attacks that took place in Norway in 2011, it’s undoubtedly topical. The text is precise, shocking and probing.
There was a real opportunity to bring us close and make us feel something, to consider how we deal with horrendous attacks that leave communities and individuals left damaged and unable to process. It’s a shame, then, that the production did nothing with its staging to help its audience connect to the story.
The staging felt unfortunately sloppy. The production lacked imagination other than that already present in the script. The majority of the audience sits opposite a choir who largely spent the time sitting. They’re sort of in the show but sort of not really and I’m not sure if they’re meant to look like they’re just an audience, if they’re actors, if they’re even in costume or if they’re just getting bored waiting in the (onstage) wings for their time to sing. I’m always willing to consider the circumstances of a show, and it may well be that this one had little time to adjust to its adopted space for the week. But even so, it did the story a disservice.
The play was a few dazzling moments of humanity surrounded by things happening slowly, non-specifically and half-heartedly. There wasn’t enough determination or intensity in the production as a whole to set the writing alight. The main actors gave very strong performances despite this. Athena Tzallas powerfully took control of her character’s existential searching and emotional uncertainty. Kishore Thiagarajan-Walker impressively inhabits the characters he plays and he’s convincingly unsettling playing a young man gearing up for murder.
This production, however, just didn’t do justice to the difficult, complex and important subjects and questions at its heart.
Photo credit: Aenne Pallasca