We need narrative. It is our way of making sense of events, whether a minor inconvenience reshaped into a witty anecdote, a seemingly random occurrence later understood as a pivotal turning point, or a comforting explanation for a horrifying, senseless tragedy. We strive to discover not just what happened, or how, or when, but why, and the simplest explanation will always be the most reassuring.
Chris Thorpe’s There Has Possibly Been An Incident is a brilliant distillation of and challenge to that need, taking four key events and presenting them with cold, clinical precision. They’re not fully dramatised, rather conveyed to us via monologue and brief dialogue by actors sitting at microphones, and we are in both the unflinching present and the aftermath, gradually becoming aware of the connection between fleeting emotions and apparently inconsequential decisions and the life-changing “incidents” they have become.
The lyrical reportage is initially oblique, but the scenarios gradually become clear: a mass murder committed by an Anders Breivik-like figure; the leaders of a revolution becoming the dictators they deposed; a plane crash in a fraught post-9/11 world; and the man who stepped in front of a tank after the Tiananmen Square massacre. The latter has more detailed, emotive treatment in Chimerica; here, all four undergo forensic examination in occasionally poetic language, with Thorpe trusting in the power of statement rather than relying on melodrama to reach a stirring climax.