Malthouse Theatre and Pan Pan
8 May 2019
to 26 May
|The Temple. Photo by Pia Johnson|
I went into The Temple knowing as little as I could about it. I left not knowing much more.
But I know a theatre reviewer having a week when they couldn't write would fit in very well on that stage.
The Malthouse co-production with Ireland's Pan Pan theatre ( Playing The Dane, 2011) was developed in rehearsals by director Gavin Quinn and the cast – Aljin Abella, Ash Flanders, Mish Grigor, Marcus McKenzie and Genevieve Giuffre. Guiffre replaced Nicola Gunn who worked on the development.
There's a line where process and on-stage look-at-me indulgence smash together and create art. The Temple does this, but it's far more successful when it fails and collapses into almost incomprehensible chaos.
The Temple is whatever it needs to be. With yellow walls, cheap chairs and a table filled with too-bright cordials to drink (designer Aedín Cosgrove), it could be a church, an addiction meeting, a reality game show or a residential therapy centre. Or whatever you want it to be.
It's every work training session I've been forced to go to, every conference, every bloody yoga retreat I chose to go to, every hope that maybe some intense time with strangers will be fun or enlightening or bearable. They're not. Strangers are the worst. Strangers who know they can be whatever and whoever they want to be without consequences are more the worst.
Each character is a version of the actor. Maybe turned up a lot. Maybe nudged down a smidge. Maybe just without their off switch. Their stories are as likely to be true as they are fiction created by someone else. Their behaviour is at best frustrating, which is often harder to deal with than when they are mean.
It's selfish behaviours without the fear of being cruel. Imagine being able to do what you want and say exactly what you think without the fear of consequence or repercussion? Maybe a reviewer doesn't fit in on that stage.
Drink The Temple Kool-Aid. Even if you don't know the reference. Even if you don't like it or have any idea what it's all about.