An Intriguing Production of Mark O’Rowe’s “Terminus”.

Magic Theatre is currently presenting an intriguing production of Mark “O Rowe’s “Terminus”  This gripping drama has been an international hit since its 2007 Abbey Theatre debut playing in England, Australia and here in this country.      The surreal drama is an account of one long, dark night of the soulless shared by two women and a homicidal maniac.  “Terminus” is an upsetting if gripping picture of the Irish capital that probably won’t be approve by the Dublin tourist board.  However this forbidding panorama is redeemed by a largeness of the playwright’s supernatural vision and by his beat-poetic script, a drummed lament for the dead to the beautiful and the damned.

“Terminus” is a supernatural narrative told by three characters:  an ex-teacher who is seeking atonement ;(Stacy Ross) a lonely woman (Marissa Keltie) looking for love and a serial killer (Carl Lumby) who sold his soul to the devil. The first recounts an ex-teachers attempt to rescue her pupil from a brutal-back street abortion. In the second, that woman’s estranged daughter falls from the arm of a crane and is plucked from certain death by a winged fugitive from Hades.  Think Orpheus and Eurydice. Think “It’s a Wonderful Life” and then think “Psycho”. Monologue three is delivered by a shy bachelor turned sociopath who has sold his soul to Satan in exchange for a melodious voice.


Many of the play’s grislier episodes require a strong stomach such as fingernails pierce an eyeball and drain it of fluid, a knife slices into a woman while she’s having sex or a body collapses beneath the tires of a truck.  All of these happen but not one of them happens onstage.  However these images are lodged into the mind of the audience thanks to some outstanding acting on the parts of the three actors.

The language is dazzling, a dizzying linking of things of recurrence and rhyme (“nipples poking, evoking so prevailing a craving, I’m quaking”) whose rhythm remains limber enough to let the play and the audience breathe.

“Since the story the actors tell is written in verse, densely packed with rhyme and spoke in a way that sounds like their natural language they meet this difficult challenge beautifully.   Their gestures are nuanced and nary a slipup occurred despite script and demanding presentations.

Stacy Ross gives a consummate performance as the ex-teacher.  Her monologues are dazzling opening with “This Samaritan shit’s the pits. I think, as I try to talk a guy from the brink of suicide; a gun implied at first, then at last admitted to. A bullet through the head his plan”.  Amazingly she is excellent in this almost 10 minute opening soliloquy.

Marissa Keltie is entrancing as the sweet guarded lonely young woman. She is perfect as a desperate dateless loner, who becomes a femme fatale of different kind. Her voice is clear and it resonates through the theatre.

Carl Lumby gives a magnetic performance as the shy, almost immaturely soft-spoken man of unspecified age attending a dance as the community center.  He successfully pilots the radical shifting tones, pace and personality of the other two with conviction both frightening and riveting.

Director Jon Tracy is the driving forces this one hour and 40 minute drama with his sharp and insightful direction.  Scenic design by Robert Brill and Lighting by Gabe Maxson is breathtaking.  It gives the audience what looks like the gateway to hell with mysterious lumps of what look like coal covering the stage in a dark lit center in the three sided theatre.  These lumps grow more ominous with each plot twist.  A heavy fog also hangs over the set throughout the production. Sound designer Sara Huddleston gives fantastic sound effects such as a chair crashes over a head in in the middle of a fall from a towering construction crane.  Even at the beginning of the drama there is a tremendous roar that sounds like an earthquake in pitch darkness that gives the audience a frightening aspect of what they are in for in this riveting drama.

“Terminus” runs through June 16th at the Magic Theatre, Building D, Ft. Mason Center, San Francisco.  For tickets call 415-441-8822.  Coming up next will be Sam Shepard’s “Buried Child” opening on September 11.