Terminus is a raw and powerful event

February 18, 2011

Aaron Mettey

Philly Mag's The Philly Post

Friday, February 18, 2011

I remember seeing Daren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream in the theater—through splayed fingers—and praying for it to end. Not because I thought the movie was horrible. Rather, the characters’ destructions and degradations were simply unbearable.

Similarly—though really not similarly (as there most definitely wasn’t a refrigerator monster)—was when I first saw Our Town. I couldn’t help but check my watch as the slow-paced, bare-set play started. Yet after a while, the sparseness ebbed, and the impact settled in.

There are pieces of theater and cinema that are simply hard to get through—sometimes so tedious, so anguishing, that you don’t think you will ever make it. Yet somehow, once you’ve reached that last moment, that last beat, all the work seems worth it.

Of course there are those pieces of “art” that torture but provide no redeeming value. Like Jane Seymour’s Open Heart Necklace, Justin Beiber, or the storylines on Glee.

Like the former, the Abbey's production of Terminus at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is a raw and powerful event. For two intermission-less hours, we look into a mirror (or window) that has exploded inward, listening to verse monologues of three characters named A, B and C. We listen to A’s story of her ill-fated attempt to save a pregnant ex-student; B’s supernatural, last night of her life; and C’s death at the hands of a Demon.

I use the verb “listen” because that is what is required. Each inhabits their own space for the entire piece—only moving when it is their turn to take up their monologue once again. Never once do they physically interact with the other actors. Only verbally, as their lines overlap at the end of one’s section and the beginning of another’s.

It is the immense skill of the actors Olwen Fouéré (A), Catherine Walker (B), and Declan Conlon (C) and the writer/director Mark O’Rowe (writer of the indie film Boy A) that you are never bored. With razor-sharp script and the actors’ dexterity, these violent and visionary stories come to life.

By the end, I felt exhausted (and a little relieved). But also energized.