Tue 21st – Sat 25th January 2014


Joseph Cooper

at 10:03 on 22nd Jan 2014



'Terminus' is not a play for the faint-hearted. Just reading the script feels daring, darkly enchanting, grotesquely absorbing; witnessing it is the same, but three-fold; I can only imagine what it is like to perform or direct such a piece. It is also one of my favourite plays and, wonderfully, this production matched Mark O'Rowe blow for blow. It was superb. 'Terminus' has a sort of sorcery about it, the language enrapturing – but it does mean that even the slightest slip-up from the actors will break the spell, disrupt the bubbling rhythm that made the play famous. Thankfully, any errors were very small, entirely forgivable (there are a lot of lines to learn!) and did not interrupt the magic.

To put it briefly, there was almost nothing more the production team and actors could have done to make the play better. For such a static performance, the actors managed to bring what seemed to be a huge amount of movement to their monologues, the smallness of their acting space making every twitch and turn significant. The acting itself was brave, entirely confident, and, thank God, convincing. The script makes it hard to find the balance between following the rhythm and making it heartfelt; they managed it. The bits that are supposed to be funny were funny, the bits that are sickening were sickening, the moving was moving – intentions and expectations were made into reality, and it is difficult to ask for more than that from a theatrical performance. I went into the theatre with my little reviewer's notebook and pen, but became so wrapped up that I didn't write a single word. 'Terminus' is dark, enchanting and rather horrifying, with demons, serial killings, attempted suicide and abortion; but it is deliciously horrifying, rich and macabre. This production made the Corpus Playroom into another world; one where you can laugh at a quip by a character who has murdered three people.

If I am to pick a hole, the transitions between monologues could have been made more strongly, with a little more energy in the opening lines during the overlap, but this is a trifle. I just remain glad of the minimalism the production team maintained in the staging and lighting of the performance; it is a play based on its language, and how that language is read out; spectacle distracts and deviates, for the most part. By keeping only simple spotlighting and an unembellished stage, and relying upon the versatility of the actors and some canny direction, they managed to make sets of buses, trains, a careering lorry and the top of a crane. It was convincing, transporting, challenging, absorbing and entertaining all at once. The best play I have seen so far in Cambridge.


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