Relationships can be tricky to navigate at the best of times, but when you must traverse the cultural divide and respective parents are at cross-purposes the task becomes a whole lot more difficult. That is the premise behind Alex & Eve, the feelgood, comedic romance developed, written by and starring Alex Lykos, who began the journey 10 years ago.
Alex (Lykos) is a schoolteacher in his mid-thirties, who receives dating advice from, among others, his year 11 students. He is from a strong Greek Orthodox background. Eve (Jadah Quinn), is an attractive and confident 30-year-old lawyer from a devout Lebanese Muslim family. Their respective domineering clans, not surprisingly, want them to marry within their own ethnic groups. Apart from anything else, there is the question of what is right and proper and the prospect of family shame. The obstacles to Alex and Eve getting together and cozying up for life are numerous and, possibly, insurmountable.
So, you have star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet style, although a tad older. They are torn between different religions and traditional and modern values. Particularly het up are Alex’s bull at a gate, loudmouthed father (Michael Kazonis) and Eve’s “take no prisoners, give as good as she gets” mother (Janette Lakiss). As if the couple’s union isn’t difficult enough, the relationship between Alex and Eve becomes even more fraught once a bub arrives. The pair drifts apart. They are tired and irritable; there is no sex and a severe lack of communication. What religion will the baby be given? Will he be circumcised?The second act provides fertile ground for development of the characters and they and their families’ proclivities/faux pas. That is what we didn’t see in the movie Alex & Eve, which was released last year.
Set in the Sydney’s inner west, the story is based upon Lykos’ real life experiences. The narrative is highly appropriate, given Australia’s increasingly diverse ethnic mix.
Alex & Eve The Complete Story makes for a good night out – in parts very funny and, in large measure, an enjoyable sit. The key is the inherent honesty of the characters. They don’t hold back. The say what is on their minds and, are often, strident in defending their territory. Alex and Eve are charming and likeable. The interactions between his father and her mother are high points. Kazonis and Lakiss are particularly strong in their respective roles. I was also taken by Alex’s larger than life Irish best mate, Paul (Paul Miskimmon), who also has a very pleasant singing voice. A cast of 10 – three of whom fill multiple roles – steer the mayhem and hijinks over a couple of hours (excluding interval).
What we are dealing with here are nice human beings who are trying to be respectful to their parents and loved ones, but find it mighty challenging to extricate themselves from the straight jackets placed around them. When it is all said and done, they makes choices, they compromise and do what they feel is right. In summary then, Lykos has taken a sledgehammer to the cultural cauldron and highlighted the pressure points for comedic effect. I smiled a lot and laughed aloud here and there.
Alex & Eve The Complete Story is playing at The Greek Centre in Melbourne on 4th September, Factory Theatre in Sydney on 10th September, Hellenic Club in Woden, Canberra on 28th October and Riverside Theatre, Parramatta on 29th October.
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television