By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
“Good storytelling isn’t just telling,” says director Jim Guedo. “A good storyteller makes you feel it’s happening in the present…. It’s in the now.”
And that ‘now’ gets darker, stranger, more brutal in the fantastical urban journey charted by the Irish playwright Mark O’Rowe in Terminus. The 2007 play opening Friday in a Wild Side production is your ticket to a wild side night out in Dublin.
“Three characters on one night, a long journey into the darkness of Dublin, in three fractured, intersecting monologues!” as Guedo intriguingly describes Terminus. “It’s not immediately apparent how they’re interconnected …. the audience has to pick up the (threads). We’re blindsided by how their actions come together!”
The older of the two women is an ex-teacher (Christine MacInnis) who works at a phone-in help centre. “Recognizing the name and vote of a former student, she sets forth on a good samaritan journey, and gets drawn into the dark underbelly of Dublin.”
The younger (Morgan Donald), “lonely and frustrated with her life, goes out, and gets drawn into a relationship that sweeps her in,” says Guedo mysteriously. And as for the third character (Ben Stevens), he’s a shy man who’s made a Faustian bargain.
“Their paths don’t cross till the end of the play,” Guedo says. “All three have amazing journeys on the night. They go to places they’ve never gone before…. They’re very different in tone, in energy. It never settles into one sort of metabolism.”
Like his fellow Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, he of the viciously funny black comedies, O’Rowe’s “original inspiration wasn’t theatre, but film,” says Guedo, who’s had his eye on Terminus for years. O’Rowe’s weapon of choice is language, in Terminus much of it rhymed. “He crafts whole chase scenes, grotesque and surreal, through the words….”
At the movies when you can’t stand to watch the gruesome or the shocking, you can flinch and hide your eyes. “You can’t un-hear something!” says Guedo cheerfully,. “Your mind makes the image and fills in the blanks.”
And, evidently, with O’Rowe plays like Howie The Rookie and Crestfall, they have. “He’s invited controversy, yes,” says Guedo, the head of MacEwan University’s theatre arts department. “They’re raw, potentially graphic, but all talked about…. Acted out, re-enacted, they would lose their force.” Terminus, he says, “is almost like a virtual reality.”
“Great hockey announcers, doing the play-by-play, do that: it’s always in the present, thinking forward, moving forward.”
Is it a horror story? Guedo considers. “There’s a lot of horror,” he says, like Pulp Fiction structurally, “but Irish, in its hard, unsentimental, bleak humour. And moments of beauty.”
The last Wild Side production, 10 out of 12, took us into the fascinating minutiae of the dread “technical rehearsal” that is part of preparing the cues for a show. This “long night of the soul, which leaves narrative realism behind” couldn’t be more different, says Guedo. “You’ll get surprised by the turns it takes; it’s unpredictable. It never goes in a way you think. ”
Theatre: Wild Side Productions
Written by: Mark O’Rowe
Directed by: Jim Guedo
Starring: Christine MacInnis, Morgan Donald, Ben Stevens
Where: PCL Studio Theatre, ATB Financial Arts Barns, 10330 84 Ave.
Running: through April 23
Tickets: 780-409-1910, fringetheatre.ca