With the return of the hit play It’s War and on the verge of releasing his new film Alex & Eve, Alex Lykos took some time out to talk about his life and why he chose a career in the arts.
Sitting in a pub in the cultural hub of Marrickville, it’s easy to see what motivates this talented playwright and actor. It wasn’t the long list of achievements or heartwarming story of transition from aspiring tennis player; it was his passion for the stories he creates and the environment he grew up in. For you see this is a Marrickville boy through and through, having grown up here and seeing it change from a Greek and Vietnamese area that was seemingly neglected to the vibrant diverse suburb today.
The return of the smash hit It’s War made Alex beam as he explained how proud he was of the production. The play is designed to make you hurt with laughter, taking the audience through a neighbourhood conflict. Each night in June has been a sell out.
In 2014 the production played to packed audiences and the sound of ‘encore, encore’ which ensured its inevitable return to the iconic Factory Theatre (Marrickville).
“The story is set with the best friend neighbours whose backyard house extension triggers a war which will test friendships, forcing neighbours to choose allegiances, and a long kept secret is revealed which will shock the foundations of the street,” Alex explains.
“When it premiered, I did not expect the audience reaction to be as crazy as it was. They were on the floor laughing their heads off,” For anyone who has been to Marrickville you will notice that Greek and Vietnamese features in the play, which mirrors the area somewhat.
The production comes under the Bulldog Theatre banner, which he founded in 2006, providing theatre offerings which were well-received by critics and the public, including the Alex & Eve trilogy.
Making special mention of people and sponsors who helped from his early days, many have become lifelong friends, to the point of joining the committee of Bulldog Theatre. He reserves special praise for one of his long term collaborators and friends, Elena Stamos, the star of three of his productions and the recently completed Alex & Eve movie. Elena took on a lead role at the last minute in the current production, literally stepping off a plane from Europe.
Alex & Eve, the movie
Momentum is building for the multimillion dollar Australian film based on the play. Having written the screenplay and taken a small role in the film, Alex is now making the exciting jump from stage to the big screen. What makes this new endeavour a great challenge is the chance to tell his story and entertain a larger audience here and abroad. The film is directed by Peter Andrikidis, who has won nine AFI awards including best direction for Underbelly. One of his more familiar projects was Wog Boy 2: Kings of Mykonos.
2015 has seen a range of local productions making a dent at the box office including Mad Max: Fury Road, The Water Diviner, Strangerland, Infini. The buzz in the industry is that Alex & Eve will join this list.
The film is based on the play of the same name, which performed to 28,000 people Australia wide. Alex tells the story that he once dated a Lebanese Muslim girl. The relationship did not last for too long, but the idea to explore cross cultural interactions via the stage did last. The film explores the dynamics between a Greek man and Muslim girl, perhaps a nod to the evolution of multiculturalism. It is certainly a long way from the traditional Greek town or village many of our parents left behind decades ago, where a similar relationship would have been unheard of. The film raises questions that would be pertinent in any society were religions and cultures differ dramatically. How would you raise your children, would one of them convert, what food will be eaten at dinner?
Alex once said that “if you are born into either of these religions you are ripe for therapy”.
The film is the culmination of a journey that commenced when he returned from living in America.”I had taken about 400 photos … I was a little lost, 29-30 years old, where do you go? I started writing vignettes on the photos and enjoyed that.” It was the start of a creative process, quickly realising that he had flair to create, penning the hit play Better Man.
As we finished our coffee, he told me, “I think about a story and ask myself this, in the middle of winter would I be willing to run around and put fliers on car windows? If not, my story isn’t worth fighting for.” With a track record that includes seven hit theatricals, it is fair say his story has been worth fighting for.
It’s War is playing at the Factory Theatre, season finishes 21 June. For more information call (03) 9550 3666 or visit www.bulldogtheatre.com
Alex & Eve is due out late 2015.
*Billy Cotsis is a freelance writer and short film director.