Saturday, March 2, 2013

Review: (Vancouver) Terminus

Leanna Brodie, John Emmet, Tracy Pippa Mackie - Photo by Ian Snow
Simple and artistic horror poetry
Three Odd Stories
by David C. Jones
Pi Theatre likes to produce “bold and uncompromising plays that explore modern life”. Terminus is by Mark O’Rowe an Irish playwright with a fascination for violence, gore and poetry.

We can see the love, care and high level of artistic talent put into the whole experience. You enter Performance Works through the back door. There is a multimedia installation with videos and lights and projected faces of the actors. Curtains surround the centre of the warehouse-type space and there is a haze in the air - it’s both sombre and artsy.

Two of the stories take supernatural turns and two contain graphic descriptions of violence.

David Roberts has designed a striking and simple set. Seven large platforms with white stained tops of various sizes and isolated from each other. Alan Brodie’s slashing lighting and David Mesiha's sometimes frightening sound combine to create a simple but effective production design.

Three people are positioned on the blocks while the lights crash up on them one at a time as they tell their stories. As promised there will be violence and poetry. All the monologues are written in rhyme.

There is a tough but weary woman who works at a suicide hotline, a numb to the world girl who gets into a dangerous situation, and a murdering gangster who wants to be a singer.

Two of the stories take supernatural turns and two contain graphic descriptions of violence.
Leanna Brodie is compelling as the help-line worker who takes a special interest -much to her own peril – in a former student who wants to terminate a seven-month foetus.  She is equal parts tough and compassionate - her spontaneous telling makes you lurch in your seat.

John Emmet Tracy is so dynamic that he makes the sociopathic killer repulsive and likable at the same time. He also finds some very dark humour and spins lines to get great laughs. After attacking a cow he taunts “Who's laughing now you bovine fuck”.

Pippa Mackie as the young woman has a harder time because her character, as written, is more reactive. Things happen to her while the other two make things happen. As a result you think she’s sweet, and has a tough life now compared to what’s happening in the other stories. But her character and story act as a buffer to the two more violent tales.
The stories take a while to ramp up and the accents and poetry can get quite sing-songy, so it is hard to stay connected at times. But Richard Wolfe’s stark and gritty direction and the actors' commitment to everything from gory attacks, to flying worm people, to love and loss means when the script kicks it up, you feel it.


  1. Got to be one of the worse plays of the year I saw. Horrible writing. Boring, pretentious... all three of my friends said: "I couldn't wait to get out of there. After the 1st woman opened her mouth, I thought about how many more minutes???" HORRIBLE.

  2. Thank you for you comments. Art is subjective. It is important to read about the subject matter and the presentation style of the play. I tried to be clear in my review to that fact. Not every play will meet everyone's tastes. I have never done this before but I so stand by my review that this is bold and different that I will copy links to my colleagues reviews in support of that fact (mine was published first).

    I am sorry you did not have an enjoyable experience. I never meant to imply that in my review.


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