Philadelphia has been feasting on the work of David Greig recently. Inis Nua produced his Midsummer last season on his The Letter of Last Resort as part of last weeks A Play, A Pie, and A Pint. Now London-based Actors Touring Company brings THE EVENTS to the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts for a two-week run. An imaginative exploration of why someone would commit a mass murder and how a survivor can cope with life afterwards, THE EVENTS was inspired by Anders Breivik’s slaughter of 77 children in Norway in 2011. In Greig’s fictional take, a choir teacher (Derbhie Crotty) is struggling to understand why a boy (Clifford Samuel) would kill members of her multi-racial choir. She talks to politicians,the boy’s family members and friends, her therapist (all acted by the versatile Samuel)—she’s obsessed, and new information doesn’t bring her closer to understanding “Why?”
The play won a best new play award in the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe (a Philadelphia-born play, The Object Lesson, took the same prize this year), and it has a decidedly Fringey feel. A new choir sings with the performers each evening (pieces range from “How Great Thou Art” to Dizzee Rascal’s “Bonkers”), and members act out small roles. (The Penn Sirens performed admirably on the night this reviewer attended.) It’s an inviting device: “this is something which has affected all of us”, they seem to be singing. But it also adds a seat-of-pants element to proceedings which sometimes takes the audience out of the world Greig wants to craft. [Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut Street] October 7-19, 2014; annenbergcenter.org.