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Act and Terminal 3

“Disconcerting and dangerous”

Lars Noren is considered one of Sweden’s greatest living playwrights, but he’s relatively unfamiliar to UK audiences. Surprising, really, because his work squirms squarely under the influence of two of our most celebrated dramatists.

Both of the short plays in director Anthony Neilson’s double-bill are disconcerting and dangerous. They’ve got the abstracted existentialism of Beckett, the needling menace of Pinter, and a rhythmic, musical dialogue.

The two plays are adapted by Noren’s long-term translator Marita Lindholm Gochman, but the first – Act – has been rejigged by Neilson, who’s shifted the action from post-war Germany to a dystopian US. A two-hander, it sees a grubby Texan doctor (a wonderfully wheedling Barnaby Power) slyly interrogate a hospital-gowned prisoner (Temi Wilkey).

Temi Wilkey and Robert Stocks in Terminal 3 from Act and Terminal 3. Photo: Tristram Kenton

It’s never clear who or where they are, or what’s happened – something about her being a terrorist, about a civil war – and although their weighted chatter zips stylishly back and forth, it’s impossible not to let that contextless frustration cloud whatever point Noren is making.

The second – Terminal 3 – is far more stimulating, not least because of Laura Hopkins’ stunning design. A giant rotating screen, shafts of slanting colours, and a stage smothered in dry ice.

Two couples (Power, Wilkey, Robert Stocks and Hannah Young – all great) wait in the same hospital foyer, one to have a baby, the other to identify a body. It’s painful, almost purgatorial to watch, and it’s supposed to be. Like Pinter before him, Noren twists language into ugly, unfamiliar shapes. Not exactly enjoyable or enlightening, but an intense experience nonetheless.

Related to this Review

How It Is (Part One)How It Is (Part One)

Production Details
Production nameAct and Terminal 3
VenuePrint Room at the Coronet
StartsJune 4, 2018
EndsJune 30, 2018
Running time2hrs
AuthorLars Noren
TranslatorMarita Lindholm Gochman
DirectorAnthony Neilson
Set designerLaura Hopkins
Costume designerLaura Hopkins
Lighting designerNigel Edwards
Casting directorRuth O’Dowd
CastBarnaby Power, Hannah Young, Robert Stocks, Temi Wilkey
Production managerAndy Reader
Stage managerJennifer Hunting, Kelly Rosser
VerdictDisconcerting double-bill of short plays from celebrated Swedish writer Lars Noren
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Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

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