The Events review at Mercury Theatre, Colchester – ‘an intense revival’

The cast of The Events at Mercury Theatre, Colchester. Photo: Robert Day The cast of The Events at Mercury Theatre, Colchester. Photo: Robert Day

David Greig’s 2013 play The Events was inspired by the horrific crime of Anders Breivik that took place in Norway in 2011.

First performed by the Actors Touring Company, it is a play about survival. Claire, the vicar in a small community, survives a mass killing by a young far-right sympathiser who wants to make a mark on history. She is left to mourn and make sense of it all.

The narrative in non-linear, the action switches between the day of the massacre and Claire’s struggles to cope with the trauma of the events, reality and dreams intertwine as she moves between hate and forgiveness.  Obsessed with the motivation behind the killings, Claire interviews people connected with the young man, a far-right party leader, his father and friends. As her relationship with her partner deteriorates, in dream-like sequences she talks to the young man.

As in the original production, a community choir is present throughout the performance. Dan Sherer’s revival is competent in its execution. James Cotterill’s church-like set design, with its bare floorboards and spindly tress, all tinted grey, makes the small studio stage feel suitably post-apocalyptic. Matt Leventhall’s sleek lighting design aids the many fast-paced scene changes.

The choir, led by Scott Gray, never overwhelms the small stage, but the pacing of the performances is less successful. Claire, as played by Anna, is tense, unsettled and constantly on edge. Josh Collins is excellent at playing the young man but doesn’t adequately differentiate between the other characters.

The production feels over-long and lacking in dramatic texture – the intensity never really subsides, and the final scenes feel abrupt. The whole thing could have benefitted from less tension and some more breathing space.

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An ambitious revival of David Greig’s 2013 two-hander that overplays the dramatic tension