The Temple (Malthouse Theatre)

Stick five strangers together in a room for a week and see what comes out the other end. Are they themselves or acting out some fantasy to form a shield of protection or anonymity? If the latter, how long before the shield is lowered? Intolerance, disinterest and antagonism are par for the course in Malthouse’s The Temple.

Photo: Pia Johnson

This is a fickle lot, although some are more vitriolic and painful than others. Davinia (Genevieve Giuffre) speaks of being disappointed that men don’t objectify her. She is up the duff and then drops the sprog that she shows no interest in. Tennessee (Ash Flanders) takes pride in constant put downs and dismissals of others. Qori (Marcus McKenzie) is a huge, friendless bore and wimp. And on it goes. The other performers are Mish Grigor and Aljin Abella.

We go through a series of confrontational and interactive situations and experiences shared by the five protagonists. They are presented as separate scenes, each given a name, which is projected onto the back wall. Conundrum, Bald Men Love Elite Singles, Motherhood’s a Gamble, This Whole Thing is a Metaphor and You Die, You Die are among them. Candidly, I had no idea what to make of the individual components nor the work taken in totality, save to say it is clear this is theatre of the absurd.

Photo: Pia Johnson

It is outrageous stuff we are seeing that will undoubtedly polarise audiences. I can’t say it did much for me. Call it a failed social experiment or a symptom of a sick society, whichever way you cut it, we – as humans – have a propensity to be mighty cruel to one another. The Temple, directed by Irishman Gavin Quinn and co-created by him, the cast and Nicola Gunn shines a light on that.

The Temple is playing at Beckett Theatre, at Malthouse Theatre, until 26 May 2019.

Alex First

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