By: Sandi Durell
Playwright David Greig and Ramin Gray (Artistic Director of Actors Touring Company) made a research trip to Norway in response to Anders Breivik’s attack on government buildings in Oslo where 77 youths were massacred at a camp on Utoya Island. It is this visit that inspired the writing of “The Events” currently at New York Theatre Workshop.
Female priest Claire (Neve McIntosh – who plays other characters), runs a choir in a small seaside community and suffers from post-traumatic syndrome, a by-product of the slaughter that occurred. She is angry and appears, most times, to be living in her own psychotic world as she attempts her brand of soul-saving.
She is also a lesbian whose own youthful indiscretions with her female partner haunt her when confronted by a rather disturbingly strange black man, played by Clifford Samuel, who assumes multi-roles – he being the person who discovered them saying “I have one bullet – who wants it?” One of Samuel’s characters is an angry young man who wants to leave his mark on the world by killing.
All the while, a community choir of 30-40 singers (changes every night – I saw the E. 4th Street Choir), led by John Browne on piano, remains on stage throughout the 90 minutes singing gospel harmonic songs. The dialog ranges from sexual to survival, from violence to art, from God to politics, values, traditions and Islamic terrorists as Claire trudges down the road of overcoming evil in total confusion.
It’s all very esoteric and befuddling – especially Samuel’s multi-characters – which are indistinguishable and it’s a guessing game as to who’s on first.
The choir is distracting but within the confusion can be the most comforting element of this production of “The Events.”
Take your chances if you’re game!
NYTW – Actors Touring Company production, 79 E. 4th St. NYC
www.nytw.org thru March 22nd