The Forge at The Court Theatre, Christchurch

29/10/2016 - 12/11/2016

Production Details

The Events: bold play explores the consequences of a mass shooting

“The only means I have is art and violence, and I was never good at drawing…” – Boy

“I was angry. I was angry and I had a gun.” – Boy

Featuring Alison Bruce, Arlo Gibson & 13 community choirs.

Voted The Best Theatre of 2013 by The Guardian, David Greig’s The Events explores the aftermath of a mass shooting. In the wake of unthinkable violence, minister and community choir director Claire (Alison Bruce – Dirty Laundry, Almighty Johnsons, Top of the Lake and Hillary) begins a search for answers. Her increasingly obsessive quest to find a reason behind the tragedy will either heal her or lead her to destruction.

As she seeks answers Claire interacts with many people associated with, and affected by, the Event and the boy who carried it out. A wide range of characters are played by Arlo Gibson (Step Dave, Shortland Street) in his first role for The Court Theatre.

The boy is the voice of the alienated, an enemy within, a lost generation. The many roles Arlo plays all ask the same question: how do we live together knowing life can come apart in a moment?

The Events, the hit of the 2013 Edinburgh Festival and the New York Times Critic’s pick in February 2015, was written by Scottish playwright David Greig, who was compelled to write the play following the massacre of 77 people on the island of Utøya in Norway in 2011.

Director Dan Pengelly says “The Events is a story that could happen anywhere. It provokes questions about why this is happening in the world right now. Horrifyingly, the contents of The Events plays out week-after-week in the news.”

“This play is a deeply humanist work: its subject is the good and evil inside all of us. The Events is an emotional powerhouse that questions what it means to be human in 2016,” Pengelly says.

A different local Christchurch choir will perform in each performance of this bold new work, going into the show just as unprepared for what will happen as the audience. Pengelly says “we want the reaction from the choirs to be authentic ­– blending the line between audience and performer.”

The choirs include NASDA, Jubilate Singers, Jazzamatazz, Global Voices, Villa Maria College Choir, A Capellago, Canterbury Plainsmen, Pops Choir, Christchurch City Chorus Sweet Adelines, Cantabile Choir, Christchurch Lawyers Choir, and Atlas Voices.

The Events runs at The Forge from 29 October – 12 November. Contains mature language and themes.

“…riveting from start to finish… Don’t miss this play… I’ve never meant it more. The Events plugs you into the heart of the world. It’s traumatic, for sure – by the end I was a complete mess. It is also magnificent.” – Simon Wilson, Metro

“…uncompromising and brave theatre.” – Tim walker, The Telegraph

“…a solemn, searching and ultimately very moving play.” – Ben Brantley,New York Times

#TheEvents #CourtTheatre

The Forge at The Court
on the Tonkin & Taylor Main Stage 
29 October – 12 November 2016
Show Times:
7pm: Mon/Thurs
7pm: Forum Mon 31 Oct post show with cast & crew
8pm: Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat 
Ticket Prices:
Adult: $36-$44 
Senior: 65yrs+: $31-$39 
Court Supporter: $31-$39 
Under 25: $31-$39 
Community Services Card: $24-32 
Child (Under 18): $19-$27 
Bookings: phone 03 963 0870 or visit  

Alison Bruce (Claire)
Arlo Gibson (Boy)

Production Team:
Daniel Pengelly: Director
Matt Everingham: Musical Director
Jo Bunce: Stage Manager
Meggan Rollandi: Set Designer
Sarah Douglas: Costume Manager
Giles Tanner: Lighting Designer
Christy Lassen: Properties Co-ordinator
Charlotte Lloyd: Production Manager  

Theatre ,

1hr 20mins (no interval)

Intricate, fast-paced and clever theatre

Review by Charlie Gates 31st Oct 2016

This powerful, beautiful and moving play left me emotionally overwhelmed by its conclusion.

The Events is a 2013 play by Scottish playwright David Greig about a woman who survives a mass shooting at her community choir meeting.

It is an intricate, fast-paced and clever production that follows Claire, played with wired and brittle energy by Alison Bruce, as she struggles to come to terms with what has happened and comprehend the ruthless nihilism that has shattered her world. Arlo Gibson plays the perpetrator of the mass murder, known only as The Boy, but also transforms himself into politicians, journalists, former friends of The Boy and even the Boy’s absent father who Claire seeks out in her desire to find some reason for the mass shooting.

It is a simple and pure idea that has many complex strands. [More


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Unflinching and demanding analysis – an outstanding production

Review by Lindsay Clark 30th Oct 2016

David Greig’s challenging exploration of the troubled path to forgiveness in the face of seemingly mindless violence is as relevant to our own society as to his Scottish homeland or to Norway, after Breivik’s hideous mass killing or indeed anywhere the beast rages. It offers us some hope as individuals or community that it is possible to neutralise the anger, grief and desire for revenge such events inevitably trigger. Only efforts to understand, let alone forgive those who break the fragile shell of what we hold to be civilised behaviour, come at a heavy cost. 

The play begins as members of a parish community choir assemble for a routine practice. They are a relaxed and tuneful lot and from a different choir for each performance, so that there is a genuine sense of spontaneous familiarity about them. Opening night’s choir is the NASDA chorus in splendid voice. Everyone is welcome here and everyone is happily focussed on Claire their leader, an energised and cheerful priest.

The newcomer who appears will change all that. It is The Boy, a gangly figure wearing the uniform hoodie, come to make his mark on the world, to be as potent a catalyst as Bob Geldof or Jesus. He has prepared himself as a tribal warrior, painstakingly entering what he sees as an almost holy state of ‘beserkness’ to take the ‘enemy at their feast’. The attack is on community unity itself.

However, the plot zips about in time and memory. It delivers on the mindset of The Boy as well as tracing the aftermath for the priest and her increasingly obsessive search for some rational explanation, an understanding of motive which could then allow forgiveness and resolution. Claire, who has hidden from and survived the slaughter, asks desperate questions of a whole range of others. Neither counsellor, pastor or psychologist provides an answer to the overwhelming ‘Why?’

The right wing politician whose race-based ideology The Boy partly followed is no help. Neither is an author’s purification theory or the bewildered father or the school friend, who just knew The Boy as a fellow outsider. It is Claire’s partner Catriona who articulates the destructive effects of such impassioned searching for answers which cannot be put into words. But there are clues in the solid presence of the choir, the metaphor of its harmony and its final inclusive words ‘We’re all here’.

Daniel Pengelly and his creative team manage the complexities of this demanding play to riveting effect. Meggan Rollandi’s set, Giles Tanner’s lighting and costume from Sarah Douglas all function to support and enhance a pair of super-charged roles. 

As Claire, Alison Bruce spins the thread we must follow and her intimately detailed work is explosive in quality. The Boy is played with simmering intensity by Arlo Gibson who also fills the host of other parts. There is a deliberate blurring of their individual distinctiveness as all relate to Claire’s inner turmoil, but each is named as she engages with them.

As an unflinching and demanding analysis of what it means to be disconnected socially, culturally or politically from a community, the production is outstanding. This achievement, combined with the play’s ultimate compassion, celebrates the power of theatre to delve into the dark places of society and bring some understanding of them. 


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