A great part of life is having choices. For theatergoers, the holiday season brings out some of the expected Christmas classics, and maybe a few surprises here and there. In a spirit of “contrary programming,” Tremont’s convergence-continuum theater is presenting what might be considered an “anti-holiday” show. “Terminus” is far beyond gritty, crass and sensationalistic. It is a challenging play to watch. It is a trip down the Dublin equivalent of skid row. Not every piece of theater will be a “feel good” show, and “Terminus” is about as far from that point as a play can be. It is also provocative in the best sense of the word, poetic, and rich in imagery and relationships.
Written by Mark O’Rowe, “Terminus” is a handful of monologues delivered by a cast of three. Given only the designations A, B and C, the playwright has purposely distanced his creations from the audience. I wish he had not done that because the characters have the ability to connect with the audience despite, or possibly because of, their subject matter.
Lucy Bredeson-Smith is A, a woman who works in some sort of social services agency. She gets a call that a woman is on the verge of an abortion very late in the pregnancy, and goes out to stop it. She finds herself in a morass of violent lesbians for starters, and descends further into creepiness from there. B, played by Rachel Lee Kolis, goes out on a date and finds herself competing with an acquaintance who convinces her date that it would be fun to climb a construction crane. C, played by Dana Hart, is a sociopath to the extreme. He is a serial killer who makes a pact with the devil.
As you might expect, all of the stories are intertwined eventually. O’Rowe has used rhymed verse in the monologues, and even more boldly, the rhyme is in the light verse form we might expect of gentle, folksy, Irish ballads.
Convergence-continuum artistic director Clyde Simon directs this piece, and it is apparent that he and the cast have a fondness for the play. Each of the pieces was internalized by the actors. Music and lighting accurately complement the monologues. Bredeson-Smith is totally comfortable in her role, and is clearly the most effective of the trio. In one part of the show, she describes a scene of violence with such effectiveness that many in the opening night audience were visibly cringing. Kolis has the least successfully developed character, probably because a “nice” person is less appealing on stage, but she does connect at times and is perhaps the best to master the Irish English that the cast must achieve in order to communicate what the playwright wrote.
Dana Hart stumbled on opening night both with his Irish English and, more disturbingly, with the lines. His two most potent monologues were marred by flubbed lines and inconsistent delivery. The character talks frequently of “Lockets.” These seem to be an Irish variation of Halls medicated lozenges – but hard on the outside and soft in the center.
“Terminus” takes concentration on the part of the audience to penetrate the odd dialect, the odder poetry and the most odd characters who speak them. It is however, convergence-continuum presenting us with something we would not see locally anywhere else. That “Terminus” is the holiday show makes it even more strange, and wonderful. “Terminus” runs weekends through Dec. 20 at the Scranton Road theater. Call 216-687-0074 for ticket information. The theater offers a substantial student discount, which is a plus in today’s world.