Premiered @ Next Wave Festival 2014

Dylan Sheridan – composer, director, performer (electronics)
Matthew Horsley – Percussion
David Maney – Performer
Danny Pettingill – Lighting


An arresting experimental work

Reviewed By Cameron Woodhead

4 Stars

It’s billed as an opera without voices, but don’t let that put you off. Dylan Sheridan’s Terminal is an excellent example of the sort of short, experimental work that the Next Wave Festival was designed to foster, and it’s so visually and sonically arresting you won’t care if you have no idea what it means.

Which you won’t. It’s baffling stuff. A man appears on stage and gets his hands caught in rat-traps. A rat appears onstage and escapes. The man becomes a puppet under a bamboo rod and makes rhythms from it. He tries to catch his breath, literally. The rat’s whiskers glow in the dark.

It’s pointless trying to describe the surreal dream-world Sheridan creates, but it deserves serious attention.

There’s a deliberate, almost painterly quality to the layering of performance, music and lighting that will excite anyone with theatrical or musical sensibility, and shades of that great experimental master Robert Wilson in the work.

Sheridan is a real talent, and it’s good to hear he’ll be making work with Chamber Made Opera. Terminal is a strange, abstract and stimulating piece with a stage vision as strong as its sound.


Theatre Review by Leonard Miller

4.5 stars

Billed as an opera without voices, Terminal is an engaging and interesting reinterpretation of the classic form for a contemporary audience. Using the black box space of Studio 2 at Northcote Town Hall to great effect, creator/composer Dylan Sheridan reinvents the audiovisual grandstanding of traditional opera and presents something which is both resonant of the courtly excesses from which opera comes and relevant to the grind of everyday twenty-first century life.

Telling the story of a dream, Terminal provides little in the way of narrative. Identifiably surreal, this brave new work captures the random, highly visual world of a dreamscape beautifully. Presented as series of interconnected but independent moving images, quintessential questions about humanity are raised. Using the idea of the rat as a carrier of disease and as representative of the drain of the rat race, Sheridan has made a work without a word spoken that can speak visually and uniquely to all. There is no required interpretation of the work and its strength lies in this availability; every audience member is allowed to understand it on their own terms.

Upon entering the black space, the lights and sound throb through the senses and the body. This hypnotic effect preludes the invitation to surrender to sound and sight intelligently and gives a glimpse into the theatrical wizardry about to be employed to great effect throughout. Percussionist, Matthew Horsely, acts as the main protagonist. It is his dream portrayed on the stage. Matching the technical brilliance of the holes, the pots and the bamboo, Horsely creates a continuous live soundscape that works in well choreographed harmony with the recorded sound. The section involving a slab of meat worked beautifully.

There is no credited designer but the piece never fails to provide a visual stimulus. The mask and costuming of the rat is at once familiar and uncomfortable. The recorded sound complements the visuals seamlessly and is equally as engaging. At forty-five minutes, this work doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Well considered and compiled, Terminal is an exciting and tantalising look into the new and unexpected directions performance is taking in Melbourne.

To make the most of this work, go with an open mind. This is a show that doesn’t need to shout to say something. Full of stimulating and sometimes obscure imagery and compelling sound, Terminal is an experiment that works. It is theatre that raises more questions than it answers.