Adelaide Fringe 2013
Melanie and James Lyons take on the roles of a ‘perfect’ married couple, a young unmarried man and woman very much in love with each other, a man with a design flaw that affects his relationships, and a suburban couple that confront the dark side of each other. In a confessional setting each character speaks uninhibitedly about their own flaws, their partners’ flaws, and the flaws in society that dictate how life should be rather than allowing human nature to take its course.
To the outside world Jake and Annie are the perfect couple, but Jake’s confession reveals his unorthodox ideas about fidelity. When Annie comes out to confess she adheres to the traditional view that marriage is a sacred bond between two people and states vehemently that Jake is a snake for cheating on her…but strangely she still loves him. Adam and Julie are a young couple about to declare their vows, but Adam struggles to come to terms that he must commit to one person and Julie is swayed by the ‘chemistry’ she has with another man. Emily and Henry’s relationship lost their spark during their honeymoon and are too afraid to confront each other with the truth about how they really feel. Hal, the design flaw, struggles to accept his defects and takes out his anger on an innocent young woman—the audience struggles to sympathise with the young woman though given Hal’s unfortunate circumstances.
This script is confronting—at times obtuse and coarse—but it is relatable and often humorous. These characters are the voice of the Ego; it is blunt, primal and challenges our primal needs against that which is socially acceptable. None of the characters and stories has a sense closure; however, they are interesting, if long-winded, insights into the human psyche and the state of relationships. The characters declared their feelings and reactions in a blunt manner, which evoked strong reactions from the audience.
It was easy to sympathise with each character—they were all vulnerable and often their logic made sense, even though it went against all morals. On the subject of love we cannot use rational logic to overcome such strong feelings. The fundamental theme in this play is that, essentially, when it comes to love and relationships there are no rules.
The stage was decorated with only a few significant props, but the confessional setting drew the focus onto the actors and their narrative. The lighting was used to introduce each character along with digital projections and some music to set the scene and give the audience some clues to their personality and characteristics.
Altar Ego explores deep issues about love, relationships and monogamy in a funny and thoughtful way. It was entertaining, thought-provoking and well-performed. The stories and characters were relatable on a number of levels and their honesty made them all the more affable and easy to sympathise with. An engaging play with excellent performances!