Ball games

The Button Event (QTC)

The Greenhouse, Bille Brown Studio

September 18 – 27

Some months ago, Todd MacDonald put out an intriguing call for tennis balls c/o the QTC Facebook page, needed for his then upcoming show “The Button Event”. And upon entry into the Bille Brown Studio space to see the show realised, it doesn’t take long to appreciate how integral to the experience they are, in all range of guises – from the pre-show theatre of MacDonald trying to toss them across the vast stage space into a steel barrel, to the frenzy of them being shot at him from a tennis ball machine, as metaphor for life’s chaotic assaults. Indeed, they are an ongoing presence, even strung together as a costume coat and, most spectacularly, dropped from the ceiling to be illuminated in their floaty fluorescence in a sea of darkness.


Props feature heavily in this high energy, one-man show, but never detract from its deeply personal narrative, which tells the true tale of MacDonald’s journey through his daughter’s diagnosis with Tuberous Sclerosis. Medical jargon features, but this is balanced with heartfelt emotion; there are many moments when the audience is collectively absorbed in the poignancy of the story and honesty of MacDonald’s performance, which shows both emotional range and physical endurance, including memorable delivery of an excerpt from Richard III’s ‘Now is the winter’ opening soliloquy and reflection that the time of unhappiness is past.

Affecting as “The Button Event” is, it is not a show of misery. Humour is an engaging feature, particularly in the introductory scenes where MacDonald recounts meeting and marrying his wife and the initial insanity of the whole new ball game of attempting to cope with twin babies. When the mood alters, the audience is well-prepared, thanks to the change in pace and lighting distinctions.

While big-ticket theatre spectaculars have their attraction value, there is also an organic appeal in seeing an honest and humble show that can make you think and feel. And, as a work driven by heart, “The Button Event” certainly delivers a solid and moving night of good theatre.

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