Review: SPEAKING IN TONGUES at Stirling Community Theatre

A murder mystery, with a difference.

Review: THE SUICIDE at The Studio, Holden Street Theatres

Reviewed by Ewart Shaw, Saturday 18th March 2023.

Speaking in Tongues, glossolalia, was a gift to the apostles from the Holy Spirit. When they preached, every listener heard the words in their own language without mediation. Some evangelical churches encourage it, though it's clearly an act of hysteria. In this striking and well-crafted production, we hear our own emotional confusions in the framework of a murder mystery.

Two couples teeter on the precipice of adultery. Their positions are so similar they speak the same words at the same time. Nothing happens. Then we find that the couples are actually married to the other participants. This could be the start of a play by that experienced French farceur Feydeau, but no. This is a play by Andrew Bovell, who knows that farce is closer to tragedy than comedy. Had a man picked up the phone that was ringing when he came home, all would have been well, but that moment sparked a mystery that hangs over the stage.

In When the Rain Stops Falling, Bovell moves his characters across generations, from the UK to Australia. In that premiere Festival production, the seven actors took on different roles, though the St. Jude's production eased the load with a larger pool of actors. Here four actors take on nine roles. The action covers a few days in a suburban landscape. Troubled marriages, infatuations, and fears play out.

Geoff Brittain has placed this theatrical conundrum in the hands of four highly experienced actors. Nicole Rutty does drunk dancing with immense grace and Gary George, puts on a cap and that familiar face disappears. For a moment I thought there was another actor in the cast. Tim Williams, in a not-very-convincing wig, creates a man ghosted by the woman he once planned to marry, another lost soul in Bovell's universe. Georgia Stockham is just remarkable. As Jane, she presents as a confused housewife who may have witnessed a murderer disposing of the evidence but, as Valerie, the woman whose car breaks down, she is gripping in her panic. Again, you marvel at the change she makes.

It's a short season with two matinees and one evening performance each week because, let's face it, theatre audiences are getting older. It's certainly worth the quick bus trip from the city, and a must-see for lovers of psychological drama and fine acting.

Note: Andrew Bovell later adapted his play, which became the film, Lantana.

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