Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Speaking in Tongues

This was one of those fortuitous moments that I'm patting myself on the back for, although I really deserve no credit. I hadn't been to the theatre for awhile (ok, so I went to Dr. Zhivago, but it felt like awhile!) and Mandy mentioned this play was on. I didn't know what it was about or anything about it, but said to go ahead and book us tickets.

In the days to follow I learnt that this is in fact a hyped production of a beloved Aussie classic, and was now a fully sold-out season. And we had tickets!

Speaking in Tongues was written by Andrew Bovell and first premiered in 1996 at the Stables theatre. The screenplay was the inspiration for the 2001 film Lantana, and the play has won awards and made it's way around the world since then. This was it's homecoming to the Stables, and it didn't disappoint.

The writing is pure genius. The character's lines overlap with perfect symmetry, the emotion and poignancy in their voices hangs in the air during the carefully constructed pauses. The storyline is vague yet somehow crystal clear, because it's entirely character-driven. We see into the hearts and minds of the characters as they reveal the deepest, darkest, emotionally driven sides of themselves and their relationships. It's all about relationships, primarily about marriage, but for each character it's also about something more. There is basically no set to speak of, and I could count the props on one hand.

Because of this, the acting has to be superb, and it was. There is a cast of 4, who play numerous characters between them, yet at times I truly believed that I was watching an entirely new actor rather than the same one in a new role. If I had to describe this show in one word I would say "clever", but it's so much more than that. It's deep, it's sly, and it challenges certain things about ourselves that we'd rather not think about. Superb.

What: Speaking in Tongues
Where: SBW, Stables Theatre


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