As with so many of the shows in the Adelaide Festival’s 2016 program, The Events looks to be an innovative, deeply moving investigation of the human soul.
“Why do human beings do what they do?” Catherine McClements, star of The Events, asks. McClements plays Claire, a priest and choir conductor lucky enough to survive a shooting massacre that takes place during her choir’s performance. After this ordeal, she delves into that spiral of darkness, attempting to understand how such an act could be carried out unto such innocent people. “Why?” Reflecting on the random acts of shooting violence that seem so common place across the world today, particularly in the United States, this is the question to which we seek answers, and the one that is rarely ever satisfied. Based loosely on the acts of far-right wing terrorist Anders Breivik in Norway of July 2011 and their subsequent aftermath, The Events seeks to examine such unfathomable acts through lenses of reason, science, politics and faith. Claire tries to understand exactly why someone would carry out such a heinous act. In that incomprehensible space, she seeks solace across society’s spectrum in conversation with a psychologist, a politician and a journalist. In this, Claire’s search for truth is an analogy for our own, as soon often after these tragic events we seek to know the reason behind it all, as it can be as simple as one answer. “It is her attempts to understand the motivations of the shooter,” McClements says. “Her journey is not so much about the grief of the situation she has been involved in, but about the exploration of why the boy would do such a thing.” Written by acclaimed Scottish dramatist, David Greig, the play was a five-star success at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It has gone on to receive critical acclaim on tour in Europe and North America as well, demonstrating the visceral relevance of its subject matter. Asked why the issue of massacre shootings is so pertinent in performance today, McClements counters that this isn’t just an ‘issue’. “We can’t call this an issue anymore, but more the time we live in.” McClements explains that The Events “uses some of the material from Anders Breivik’s facebook page,” that was posted freely to his own friends and acquaintances. In our age of immediately accessible information, and all too frequent incitements of violence on social media, this point hits close to home. “It veers very quickly from the real events,” she says. The goal of The Events is not to portray a singular horror, but examine its broader context, and global effect. David Greig uses a uniquely innovative mechanism to accomplish this. In every performance of The Events, a local choir is used to embody the sombre victims of the shooting, and add its own local choral flavour. “There’s something incredibly open and uplifting about it,” says McClements, “Seeing regular people up on stage from these community choirs adds an extra element of soul to it all.” It is amid such darkness and horror that The Events is an eminently hopeful piece. “We just don’t want to live in fear.” The Events Her Majesty’s Theatre Thursday, February 25 – Saturday, March 5 adelaidefestival.com.au