Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester; Tuesday 13th June, 2017
Two young men, two young women: they’re out for the night, dancing, chatting, having a few drinks. He looks over to her, she looks over to him. They start talking, buying more drinks, flirting; she was supposed to get a kebab and a taxi home with her mate but then ended up staying out with him.
My Version of Events is a rehearsed reading that could be portraying a standard night out for millions of people in any town or city anywhere in this world. Encircled by the audience, the cast wander around with their scripts, literally giving several different versions of the same events.
With careful scripting and strong acting performances, each personal interpretation of events is plausible and viable. The lack of set, props, costumes, sound or lighting effects is irrelevant here: the story unfolds in a compelling manner, slowly and carefully approaching the big moral question: what is sexual consent and how can it be proven?
The end of the plotline never really arrives, it’s clearly deliberately scripted in that way, to leave the audience agonising over who is right and who is wrong. This leads perfectly into the second half of the evening (preceded by an exhibition of art on themes related to sexual consent) where the cast, the writer, the director and a crisis counsellor discuss their take on the issues raised by the play. When the conversation is opened up to the audience, a wide range of views and opinions emerge, including some very personal connections to the matters being discussed.
My Version of Events tackles a very difficult subject in a calm, rational and sensible manner. The scenario may be fictitious but it is still very believable. This is theatre that inspires discussion and debate, it provokes thought processes that yearn to answer difficult questions, but ultimately can’t. As one audience member put it: what happens when they’re all telling the truth?