The Event is a curious thing to write about on paper. So simple, so purely a derivative of theatre, it does seem like an extraordinarily strange job, to be a stranger, a professional observer, who sits in the audience and listens to the words written by a man in order to go home and write my own words in response to those words.
There is a stage, empty. There is a pool of light and in it stands a man. The man is an actor, the man is Nick Pelomis. But of course we’re not supposed to know that. To us he is just a man. And the man stands on the stage and speaks to us the words he memorised by another man, John Clancy. But we shouldn’t know that either. For weeks, the man on the stage read and spoke the work of the writer, and another man, Daniel Clarke told him how to say the words and how to stand and how to act. Just another thing we shouldn’t know, that should be obscured by the magic of the theatre.
And while The Event doesn’t introduce us to these particular people, it does introduce us to the curious curiosities which is theatre, drawing back the curtain of artificiality and narrating what exactly it is that makes a piece of theatre. The lines, the direction, the measured movements and the repeated choice, that manipulative change in the lighting: the performance of the thing.
With your attention brought to be so closely focused on the rehearsal, on the deliberate choice in every movement, every move the man makes is questioned: is this a choice? Is this rehearsed? Is this how he has done it before, will do it again? Or did I catch a moment of spontaneity? That couldn’t possibly have been rehearsed, that was here and now. Wasn’t it? Was it?
This is a testament to Pelmois and Clarke that even when constantly told this is theatre and this is not real, you buy into the character presented. I know, you say to yourself, that the play they are talking about is invented, but since this man is talking about that play, this play is real. Surely?
The counter to this, of course, is the audience becomes hyper aware to each stumbled word, each slight flub: ah, a mistake! I caught it! Under Pelomis’s hand there may be few victories in this game, but they become much more amplified than under any normal circumstances.
Clancy’s script succeeds the most when it is talking directly about the acting process and the audience (and the reviewers in the audience). At times, when steering away from this most elemental form, the primary message of the piece can get a bit lost, as the man goes into deeper reflections on theatre and society and the play stalls. But when it is at its best The Event is a side-achingly funny and clever look into stagecraft.
One which will probably never let you look at a man, standing in a pool of light on stage, in quite the same way again.
Daniel Clarke presents
by John Clancy
Directed by Daniel Clarke
Venue: The Bakehouse Theatre | 255 Angas Street, Adelaide
Dates: 27 Oct 2010 - 30 Oct 2010
Duration: 65 minutes
Tickets: Adults $25 | Concession $18
Bookings: (08) 8227 0505