PuSh 2018: The Events - Pi Theatre

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The Events | Pi Theatre | PuSh International Performing Arts Festival | Russian Hall | January 17 – 28, 2018

How do you go on when an entire community has been taken away from you? In David Greig’s The Events, Claire, a priest and choir leader, tries to come to terms with a mass shooting that had her face to face with the gunman. The play is based on an incident that took place in Norway in 2011, and it sadly has relevance in many other parts of the world.

Claire (Luisa Jojic) wants to understand what motivated the shooter to take those lives. She realises it would be easier to label him as insane and move on, but she is unable to let it go. Her grief consumes her as she works to rebuild her faith and her choir. Jojic distills all Claire’s pain, anger, grief, and confusion into a sympathetic performance that takes the audience on her journey to find meaning.

We also hear from “The Boy” (Douglas Ennenberg) who takes on many characters including the shooter and Claire’s partner Catriona. Ennenberg’s transitions between the intense, aggressive shooter and the feminine, sensitive character of Catriona were impressive.

Each night features a different local choir that represents redemption and shared humanity. When Greig was researching the play in Norway, he almost quit because he couldn’t see any way of redeeming humanity after these events. His Norwegian dramaturg brought him to a choir practice, and in that moment he found inspiration to carry on and finish writing the play.

The play brings up many social and political issues that may have motivated the shooter, but sometimes these were too obtuse to fully grasp. The main message seemed to get muddled and there were times when I felt lost in the various trains of thought. Perhaps this is the desired effect to leave us feeling as lost as Claire as she tries to deal with what happened.  

As Claire says, trauma changes us. Life takes on a perspective and many things take on new meaning. From their opening song to the final scene, the choir takes on new meaning for the audience. Their singing is filled with hope and leaves us with the sense that there is always a way forward, no matter how difficult, as long as we have a community.

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