Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Raven Dauda as Clare and Kevin Walker as The Boy in The Events. Dahlia Katz

Dahlia Katz/Dahlia Katz

  • Title: The Events
  • Written by: David Greig
  • Director: Alan Dilworth
  • Actors: Raven Dauda, Kevin Walker
  • Company: Necessary Angel
  • Venue: Streetcar Crowsnest
  • City: Toronto
  • Year: Runs to March 15

rating

3 out of 4 stars

The Events is the first show mounted by Necessary Angel since Alan Dilworth, recently the acting artistic director at Soulpepper, became head of the independent theatre company that has been run by some of the country’s top directors over the decades.

Dilworth has delivered a production of this 2013 play by Scottish playwright David Greig that is skillful and soulful - but audiences will leave divided as to how necessary it really is.

The Events stars Raven Dauda as Clare, a priest who has survived a shooting that took place at a choir practice. Since the “events” in question, she has become obsessed by the perpetrator, known here only as The Boy.

Story continues below advertisement

Kevin Walker, his hair flattened and his body coiled, plays The Boy – but also most of the other people who Clare interacts with.

Under the direction of Dilworth, Walker slips from one character to the next without substantial changes to his body or voice; it is as if he is channelling characters rather than acting them in the traditional sense.

This may be off-putting initially, but it helps illustrate the depths of Clare’s obsession: She sees everyone and everything in the world through The Boy now.

Dilworth has both his actors deliver dialogue in a fast, flat, distanced way at first. It makes the play seem as though it is taking place from within Clare’s trauma and depression.

And yet there is life, uncontained and exuberant, in the show as well.

Each night, The Events is staged in front of and with the participation of a different community choir. On opening night, Toronto’s City Choir filled three rows of seats on risers on the stage.

This onstage chorus is, on one level, a nod to the choruses of ancient Greek tragedy.

Story continues below advertisement

But the choir also functions as a backdrop of humanity that renders the massacre in the play much more palpable and therefore hard to distance yourself from. (The show will, I imagine, have entirely different resonances when the Cantala Women’s Choir performs later in the run.)

There’s something moving in merely watching real people walk across a stage, with all their idiosyncratic gaits and fleshly vulnerability, to take their seats. It’s also a reminder of how stylized most acting is even at its most naturalistic: Dauda, who gives a deeply concentrated performance as Clare, moves with a purpose that immediately sets her apart; Walker, who is terrific, wanders on, all potential menace, then stands in the corner, apart.

The contrast between being and acting is what makes The Events a compelling show – and that is built into Greig’s script.

But while this formal experimentation may be fruitful, the scenes Greig has penned suggest a playwright searching for something to say about the unspeakable – and not having any greater insight on the subject than anyone else.

There are intermittent gestures at plot – a relationship falling apart, a revenge plan hatched. But Clare ultimately seems less a survivor than a surrogate for Greig as she launches her own investigation to find out if The Boy is evil or mentally ill by reading his blog, talking to his father or questioning the leader of a far-right political party he briefly joined.

This is well-trod territory. Looking back, I see that I have rarely given enthusiastic reviews to shows about such “events” – whether tackling real ones, as in Swedish playwright Lars Noren’s The 20th of November and Belgian playwright Carly Wijs’s Us/Them; or only inspired by them, as in English playwright Simon Stephens’ school-shooting drama, Punk Rock.

Story continues below advertisement

This could be a matter of personal (dis)taste. But the collective experience of seeing all those European plays put on by Toronto companies is of a theatre scene more comfortable looking at this subject from a distance, than directly examining what has happened here at a mosque in Quebec City or on Yonge Street sidewalks.

Perhaps that’s unfair as each of the aforementioned plays involves a playwright inspired by tragedy abroad for them: A Swede writing about a German shooting, a Belgian writing about a Russian siege, an Englishman imagining a English version of what is primarily an American phenomenon.

The Events, likewise, was partly a response to the 2011 far-right terrorist attacks in Norway that culminated in an assault at a youth summer camp and left 77 people dead.

I honestly don’t get Greig’s impulse to use his copious artistic talents to create a fictional similar incident in Scotland, which has been blessedly free of such massacres since Dunblane in 1996, after which both Conservative and Labour governments introduced gun-control measures. Something about it feels like evasion, even in a fine production like this.

Find out what’s new on Canadian stages from Globe theatre critic J. Kelly Nestruck in the weekly Nestruck on Theatre newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies