The Temple is a wacky, confusing, completely psychedelic comedy that messes with you in the best of ways, supported by fantastic performances, a phenomenal script, and an other-worldly concept.
Directed by Gavin Quinn, joint artistic director and co-founder of the Pan Pan theatre company, we are given a fish tank view, a zoo-like presentation, of human nature; in which the audience become spectators to the unravelling of five strangers in a performance unlike any other.
The story follows five strangers who seem to have enrolled in some sort of self-development program by the end of the play you may think that they must either be in some wacky experiment or part of an initiation to an extremist cult. The characters are instructed to delve into the deepest parts of themselves to analyse themselves, yet they end up tearing themselves apart without knowing how to put themselves back together.
This play takes talking about your Myers-Briggs personality type with your housemates on the kitchen floor to a whole new level (surely I’m not the only one who does that am I!?).
The best part of The Temple is bearing witness to the ridiculous, intense interactions between the characters. With very little plot yet so many elements to the story and about a billion different character dynamics flying across the stage, I have to admit I left the performance not knowing what strings had been tied up by the end. Honestly, you can walk out of it without completely understanding what you just saw – it definitely takes a while to process.
The performance was full of wacky and questionable concepts, such as showing affection through an “aggressive love circle”. As appealing as the concept sounds I probably wouldn’t recommend trying it with your own friends as it mostly involved throwing (extremely hurtful) insults at each other. In fact, the entire show should come with a massive warning sign saying DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME. And frankly anything that you already do which you see them perform, I would seriously question whether you should be doing so.
There may have been parts that played a little too much into the metaphor. There was an array of beakers filled with colourful liquid that the characters would go and drink at various stages of the performance to show the escalation of their madness. This seemed to be spelling out to the audience what was happening a tad too overtly (sometimes it’s okay to leave things unsaid, right?).
However, the experience of seeing The Temple can best be described by a single word: whirlwind (in a good way). I can honestly say that I have never felt more immersed in a performance in my entire life. The performers make you feel as though you are one of them, you experience what they are experiencing. No longer an audience member, you are flung into this world that can somehow simultaneously unpack and undermine your sense of self and your interpretation of society.
You leave the theatre not knowing which way is up, for the rest of the evening expect to have your entire sense of reality completely flipped upside down. Expect to have to remind yourself of the rules of social interaction and how to communicate with those around you – because your experience in The Temple will have questioning all of that and more.
Want my advice? – go and see The Temple. You definitely won’t regret it.
The Temple is playing at the Malthouse Theatre until Sunday 26 May.