Odd Irish play arrives in Whitehorse
Sarah Miller-Garvin photo
Sarah Dodd promises that if you just hold on, things will eventually make sense.
Dodd is one of the three performers taking the stage starting next week in Terminus at the Yukon Arts Centre.
The play, which has been described as “a Tarantino film set to poetry,” is far from typical.
To start, the audience sits on risers on the stage, looking out at the seats they would normally occupy.
The actors, who stand on the stage’s edge, tell three interlocking monologues. None of the characters directly interact with each other, and none of the major plot points are acted out - they are only described.
Oh, and one last thing. The whole thing rhymes.
“It’s about three people who are lonely and feeling alone in the world, who are isolated,” Dodd said.
“They all choose to do things that affect the rest of their lives. It’s a fateful night for all three of them in Dublin. Through the events of the play we see that their stories begin to merge in very odd and unexpected ways.”
Violent portions of the play may only be described, rather than acted out, but that doesn’t diminish the impact, said Dodd, who is currently with the cast in Victoria.
“Last night when we previewed it, there is a section of violence being spoken (of),” she said. “And the audience, it was like we were actually doing it.”
Dodd first saw the play as a member of the audience and jumped at the opportunity to act in it.
“I automatically said yes, because I had such an experience as an audience member.”
She plays “A” - the characters don’t actually have names.
“She’s a mom,” Dodd says, and leaves it at that.
After about 20 years acting on stage, Dodd says she still feels invigorated to be part of something that is played directly to the audience, as opposed to between characters.
“The audience is different every night so the energy is different every night. So the experience is always unique,” she says.
In the case of Terminus, that audience energy is particularly important.
The play’s unusual seating arrangements mean each show will only have an audience of about 120 people. That’s significantly smaller that the arts centre’s normal capacity of 418.
“I think (director) Mitchell (Cushman) wanted to have an intimate experience,” Dodd says.
“When I saw it, it was incredibly moving and very surprising how he used it. He’s a master of turning things around, Mitchell. He’s a great director,” she said.
“Everything is absolutely intentional and it is really exciting to sit on the stage.”
While other actors may get tongue tied in terror at the prospect of messing up a line when the entire production follows a set rhyme scheme, Dodd says the poetry actually made everything easier to commit to memory.
“It is actually much easier, believe it or not. Shakespeare is the same. In some of Shakespeare’s plays there is rhyming and it makes it much easier to memorize. Also, the play is very well-written, so that makes it easier to memorize.”
The play is the brainchild of Irish playwright Mark O’Rowe. It premiered at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 2007 and has been revived a number of times since.
This incarnation is being put on by Toronto’s Outside the March Theatre Company.
Dodd is reluctant to give away too many twists in the show. Half the fun is allowing the audience to come along for the ride and figure out things as they’re reveled, she says.
“I want them to walk away feeling like they never have after a show. Everything’s not neatly tied up in a bow. The plot isn’t anything you’re going to expect. You can’t guess,” she said.
The New York Times called the play “a dense, musical brand of colloquial poetry that sounds like a mix between Jay-Z and Tom Wolfe on a gonzo riff.”
“I hope the audience gets out of the experience the same thing I got,” says Dodd. “To be really excited about the writing and the experience of going on a journey that is completely unexpected.
“You have really no choice but to go, ‘OK,’ and then go along with it. You have this incredible roller coaster ride of emotions that happen.”
The play is running at the Yukon Arts Centre from March 26 to 29.
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