LOUIS SHANKAR reviews three extraordinary monologues playing this week at the Corpus Playroom.
Corpus Playroom, 9.30PM, January 21st, £6/5
Terminus is frightening, shocking, and undeniably brilliant. It tells the story of a lost Samaritan, a sweet demonic romance and a man who sold his soul to Satan, so that he could sing, through three sets of rhyming monologues.
It reminded me of a strange kind of relay: each actor sprinting furiously through the rhythmic, dynamic monologues, pausing only for the occasional breath, before passing the baton on to the next character. This repeated cyclicly, but with thanks to Mark O’Rowe’s exceptional story, rather than tracing circles they created an intricate web that knitted the characters, their stories and their worlds tightly together.
John King’s creative use of the set – three boxes that caused the actors to tower over the audience when stood, yet look them right in the eye whilst sat on the edge – generated streets and trains, trucks and cranes (some rhyme for you) out of mere planks of wood. The lighting design was simple yet effective: a single spotlight illuminated whomever was talking and left the other two in darkness, silhouetted faintly against the backdrop.
All three of the actors – Charlotte Quinney, Kim Jarvis, and George Kan – were extraordinary. Well-learned lines tumbled effortlessly of their tongues and convincing accents drew us right into the centre of modern Dublin. However, what was truly a testament to the three actors was the intense and almost believable world that they created. This was not only through their hypnotic words, though: their constrained actions atop the plinths put us right in the middle of falls, fights, dances, and flights (more rhyme). Despite the fantastical nature of the angels and demons the permeated the narrative, each of the characters that stood on stage seemed shockingly real; during the course of the play, it truly felt like we got to know them, and empathise not only with their choices but their mistakes.
The whole audience audibly gasped at one particularly gruesome moment – generated by a simple ‘pop’ – and many tears could be seen as each character reached the end of their respective tales. There was laughter too, though, both at cleverly constructed observation and simple comments about farts and cow faeces.
Terminus is unlike anything else I have seen in a long time. The chaotic script is given form and order with precise, delicate renderings from the actors, who deftly propel the captivated audience down through Dublin’s demonic streets, through the worm-infested earth and into Hell itself. It’s absurd, horrible, captivating, and a must-see play that sets the ball running for what should be a brilliant term of theatre.