Reflections on Intimacy and Narcissism in Ontroerend Goed’s Personal Trilogy

Adam Alston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article looks at the functioning of intimate experience in three one-on-one performances by the Belgian theatre company Ontroerend Goed, grouped together as the Personal Trilogy: The Smile Off Your Face (2003), Internal (2007) and A Game of You (2010). It will be argued that ‘the experience’ is rendered a site of aesthetic engagement in these performances and that this rendering encourages the participant to reflect on the terms of intimate interaction. Some potentially productive discrepancies in these performances will be discussed in addressing the production of experience, such as belief and belief under false pretences, control and being controlled, and a desire for self-fulfilment in relation to its being undermined. These discrepancies will be theorised with reference to Ovid’s myth of Narcissus and Echo and Richard Sennett’s comments on narcissism in The Fall of Public Man, where a provocative model of ‘narcissistic participation’ will be proposed as being relevant to this kind of work. Perhaps the deliberate undermining of intimate experience may open up space to formulate a politics of participation premised not on a balance of power between performer and participant, but, rather, an affective revealing of its elusiveness.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPerforming Ethos: an international journal of ethics in theatre and performance
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2013


  • Ontroerend Goed
  • one-on-one theatre
  • one to one theatre
  • intimate theatre
  • intimacy
  • narcissistic participation

Cite this