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Terminus: Abbey Theatre returns to Annenberg Center

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Terminus by Mark O’Rowe
Abbey Theatre (Ireland’s National Theatre)
Annenberg Performing Arts Center (U. of Penn)
February 16-20m, 2011
Review of Feb. 16 opening airs on WRTI, 90.1 fm, Feb. 18

A title like Terminus doesn’t suggest a happy end. As he’s’ done before Irish playwright Mark O’Rowe lets us confront grim, desperate lives over the course of one long day. Like his contemporary Connor McPherson, O’Rowe’s play Terminus at the Annenberg Center also takes a dive into the supernatural.

A mother seeks atonement, a daughter fulfillment, a serial killer spins tales. Declan Conlon plays this killer identified in the program as Character C. C thinks he’s a charmer; he’s the play’s weakest link. C has numerous chances at comedy – the killer thinks he can sing better than Betti Midler; many fall flat.

The women in Terminus are very strong. Olwen Fouere as character A, the mother out to rescue a former student is terrifically believable. A’s matter- of- fact delivery makes the story the more appealing. Her wit takes you by surprise. A’s energetic monologue compels until a point when the narrative crashes, turns to weepy sentimentality, becomes long-winded.

Something similar happens to the monologue of the young woman played by Catherine Walker, Character B. B has the most vulnerable, emotional role but an hour or so into her story’s unwinding – it begins to sound like the playwright is channeling William Blake. (Maybe The Marriage of Heaven and Hell?)

This is O’Rowe’s first play in verse.

There’s fat on the bones of these overlapping monologues, fat and gristle and it’s tiresome to chew. The rhyme scheme also adds to the redundancy.

On the positive side, there are (a few) surprises: I’ll leave you to them.

Terminus, produced by Ireland’s Abbey Theatre presented by Penn’s Annenberg Center for the Arts.

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Written by Lesley Valdes

February 18, 2011 at 1:54 am

2 Responses

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  1. Lesley, I am writing to you on another matter entirely: your generous and informed and deeply intelligent review of my Shostakovich book, just posted on the ARTicles site. I couldn’t find another way to get in touch with you except through your blog, so I am thanking you here. Please feel free to delete this from comments (though I am always glad to read about the Abbey Theatre!) when you have read it.

    Wendy Lesser

    April 12, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    • thank you, Wendy, and for reminding me that I have not posted the scripts for my radio reviews in too long a time. ah, where does time go? should your book tour come to philly please advise. If I can get a mini-review on WRTI, I’ll send the mp3 or link your way.

      Lesley Valdes

      April 13, 2011 at 7:41 pm


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