This is Not a Review: Terminus (Pi Theatre, March 2013)

This was my micro-reaction post on Twitter: Wow. An amazing feat of storytelling. Hard to find words – Mark O’Rowe took ’em all to make verses with.

The buzz was strong with this show; before I saw it, I had heard many theatre colleagues describe it as brilliantly written, acted and produced, violent and gruesome and beautiful. It was certainly all of that.

The structure of the script was deceptively simple – three characters, three interlocking monologues, no actual interaction between any of the actors – but the farther we got into it, the more it became clear that the three stories were all part of one narrative, really cleverly plotted. Gradually connections were revealed between the three characters; their storylines got closer and closer and eventually intersected and called back to each other… it was very cool. Especially since the starting elements seemed SO disparate at first!  The friend who came with me wondered if the script had started life as some sort of a dare or a playwright’s workshop exercise…the kind where you have to pull X number of items out of a hat and write something that incorporates all of them. A mental health help phone line, Dublin at night, lesbian gangsters, mothers and daughters, men and women, demons, worms, angels, a car chase, a serial killer, reincarnation, a construction site. And all of it in rhyming verse.

It would have been a feat of storytelling just to make something coherent and compelling out of all that, within the structure that the playwright had established – but the language itself was amazing too, as was the performers’ delivery of it. I can’t recall the last time I went to a show in which I was this captivated by the text alone – caught up and delighted by the music of the words and completely transfixed by the imagery, even as I actually physically flinched away from it more than once (and how often does *that* happen? Not often for me, especially in a live performance context; and it’s all the more impressive in this case because the actors were not actually physically acting out said images in any kind of realistic way.). I want to describe it as viscerally compelling, but – when I said that to my friend on the way out, she said “…literally…” and then I groaned loudly, because ew, guts being pulled out is actually a horrible recurring motif in the play. It was…something quite extraordinary.

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