City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland


By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 09 August 2008

Show details
Traverse Theatre
Abbey Theatre, Dublin
Running time: 
Mark O'Rowe (writer / director), Jon Bausor (set and costume designer), Philip Gladwell (lighting designer), Philip Stewart (sound design), Stephanie Ryan (stage manager)
Andrea Irvine (A), Eileen Walsh (C), Karl Shiels (B)

Terminus is a play for three actors in
rhyming couplets. Not the easiest form, nowadays at least, for dramatist or
actors (or indeed, sometimes, audience). Mark O'Rowe takes few prisoners as his
text steps solidly forward toward its end. The triple monologue, meshing
together the tales told by the three actors, is a device used by several
playwrights since Brian Friel's Faith
first appeared.

Here, two women suffer loneliness separately and the
results of trying to avoid it. Meanwhile, a serial killer struggles to avoid the
law and retribution. Although there's quite a bit of magic realism whizzing
about, the play feels tied to a particular sensibility, from which this
reviewer hoped it might be released. No such luck, however, as O'Rowe's characters
stumbled toward their pre-ordained end.

There's quite a bit of theology lurking
in the sub-text of Terminus, no bad thing in itself, but difficult to make
convincing and relevant in our secularised times. Some of O'Rowe's demonology
(yes, there is one, of sorts at least) seems to owe more than a little to that
of Philip Pullman, although neither writer may take that as any sort of

Much of the language does work, however, although in the
performance seen, the actors had occasional difficulty with it. There is, to be
fair, a great deal to remember, and in the right order. Theirs is undoubtedly a
particularly difficult task, which they carry out with faithfulness to both
text and characterisation, albeit with some slight stumbles.

They also make
maximum use of minimal staging, breathing life into open space. There's such
talent and enthusiasm obvious here that one wishes it could have been focused
elsewhere. Howie the Rookie marked O'Rowe as a chronicler of life and time in
contemporary Ireland. Here it feels as if a step backward has been taken, into
an Ireland which no longer really exists, or no longer deserves the oxygen tent
it feels has been provided here.

Times: Aug 3-16, times vary (see Fringe Programme)

Copyright Bill Dunlop August 2008

Published on August 2008