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“Terminus” by Mark O’Rowe Spins Surreal Narratives Full of Angels and Demons, Lust and Violence

"Terminus" plays The Carolina Theatre on Feb. 25th and 26th

"Terminus" plays The Carolina Theatre on Feb. 25th and 26th

Duke Performances will present the Abbey Theatre of Ireland’s production of Terminus, an R-rated three-character play written and directed by Irish playwright and screenwriter Mark O’Rowe (Howie the Rookie), at 8 p.m. on Feb. 25th and 26th in Fletcher Hall at The Carolina Theatre in downtown Durham, NC. Terminus premiered in 2007 at the Abbey Theatre, subsequently scored another success at New York’s Public Theater, and later won the 2008 Scotsman Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

According to Duke Performances:

“This will be the first time the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s National Theatre, has performed in North Carolina and is the first time the company has toured the U.S. in 10 years.

“The Abbey Theatre — founded in Dublin in 1899 by, among others, W. B. Yeats — has always served as a crucial incubator of the best Irish literary talent, never shying away from less established talent and innovative work. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, and John Millington Synge were among the authors whose works first appeared at The Abbey. More recently, in the past five years, the Abbey has commissioned more than 20 different writers and toured productions internationally.

Terminus is a cycle of three interlocking monologues told in a rhymed blank verse that has as much to do with Irish slang as it does with classic English prosody. Three characters [Olwen Fouéré as A, Catherine Walker as B, and Declan Conlon as C] each tell their stories directly to the audience, surreal narratives full of angels and demons, lust and violence.

“According to The New York Times, it is ‘a tale that involves a mother’s seduction of her daughter’s fiancé, a young woman’s seduction by her best friend’s husband, and Satan’s seduction of a killer with a Faustian pact to provide him with women in exchange for his soul.’ When the characters’ stories begin to intersect and criss-cross, the play explodes, wallowing in the unholiest of places. Despite its unflinching engagement with the grittier parts of life, the play nevertheless finds a sort of transcendent — if unusual — grace.

“Director and writer Mark O’Rowe received wide praise for his playwriting debut, 1999’s Howie the Rookie, which The New York Times described as a ‘thrilling new play … [with the] ability to make language a living, growing organism.’ With Terminus, O’Rowe has taken on the responsibilities of director as well as playwright. According to the Sunday Tribune (U.K.), the results are ‘gripping, grotesque, and deliriously good.’

“With the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s performances at [Durham Performing Arts Center] and Megafaun’s Sounds of the South project at the Hayti Heritage Center, the presentation of Terminus marks Duke Performances’ third off-campus offering. At The Carolina Theatre — a centerpiece of downtown Durham’s revival — the play will be set off by the venue’s decades of top notch performances.

“The company will be artists-in-residence at Duke in advance of their performances. Several free and open to the public residency events will be offered during their stay….

“In addition to their Duke Performances engagement, The Abbey Theatre will take Terminus to Philadelphia’s Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Wexner Center at Ohio State, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center in Maryland, and more.”

WARNING: On its website, Duke Performances notes that Terminus is “Not for the faint of heart. [It c]ontains strong language and violent descriptions [and is r]ecommended for ages 18 and over.”

Duke Performances presents the Abbey Theatre of Ireland in TERMINUS at 8 p.m. Feb. 25 and 26 in Fletcher Hall at The Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan, St., Durham, North Carolina 27701.

TICKETS: $26-$34 ($5 Duke students and $10 non-Duke students).


Carolina Theatre Box Office: 919/560-3030.

Ticketmaster: 800/745-3000, 919/834-4000, or

SHOW: Season.




NOTE: Following the Feb. 25th performance of Terminus, the Abbey Theatre cast and dramatist Mark O’Rowe will convene for a meet-and-greet with its audience at Bull McCabe’s Irish Pub ( directions:, 427 W. Main St., Durham, NC 27701.


The Play: (official website).

The Playwright:’Rowe (Wikipedia) and (Internet Movie Database).

Abbey Theatre: (official website) and (Wikipedia).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review,a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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