Speaking in Tongues inspires us to look inward
Andrew Bovell is renowned for his dark, intricate and intellectually challenging plays and Speaking In Tongues is certainly no exception. The cast of four play nine characters, whose lives criss cros
Speaking in Tongues
Duke of York's Theatre
Andrew Bovell is renowned for his dark, intricate and intellectually challenging plays and Speaking In Tongues is certainly no exception.
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The cast of four play nine characters, whose lives criss cross each other in the apparent random fashion that makes
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Initially, we are introduced to the characters who form the backbone of the play. Like something straight from the script of EastEnders, these unlikely four are made up of two couples - all separately out on the town and all with the same mission - to have a one-night stand.
It's a simple case of wife swapping, as both couples end up with the other one's partner. They all get as far as the bedroom and we get to see both encounters simultaneously on stage. This is an excellent piece of theatre.
However, if you're a lazy theatre-goer (like me), then this scene will send your head into a spin.
Thankfully, director Toby Frow allows the audience to spend the first half getting to know each of these characters. But despite this, I didn't feel any sort of warmth or connection for any of them.
The guilt supposedly shown by Jane (Kerry Fox), and the
self-indulgent pity she exuded, was just annoying. After all, she actually carried through her desires - unlike John (Ian Hart) - her decent, if ill-informed husband.
Leon (John Simm) was Jane's partner in crime - for one night only - which was ironic as he played a mild-mannered and slightly boring copper, bored with playing by the rule book.
My money was initially on Sonja (Lucy Cohu) to go The Full Monty - so I was surprised when this seductress decided to find a conscience.
Smaller ships that passed in the night of the adultery, are explored in the second half.
The most interesting of these is when Jane sees her neighbour toss a shoe into the wilderness opposite her house. Adding two and two together, to make 25, poor Nick (John Simm), the neighbour, is taken in for questioning.
His account of the evening was compelling and dominated the act. This was to the detriment of Neil's (Ian Hart) parallel performance that was taking place stage right at the same time. Nick's story was just too important and believable for me to be interested in anything else that was taking place on stage.
Speaking In Tongues takes the randomness of life and puts tiny samples under the microscope.
It deals with a vast array of human emotions and looks at relationships between men and women, the conscious and sub-conscious. But most of all, it inspires us to look inwards.
As a play, it was somewhat overwhelming in what I was being asked to consider - but well worth considering all the same.
Until December 12.