BWW Review: SPEAKING IN TONGUES- A Talented Cast Makes This Twisty-Turning Puzzle Most Easy to Swallow & Enjoy
SPEAKING IN TONGUES/by Andrew Bovell/directed by Jeneffa Soldatic/The Matrix Theatre/thru June 28, 2016
The Australian Theatre Company's stunning quartet of talented actors elevates playwright Andrew Bovell's very clever SPEAKING IN TONGUES into an entertaining puzzlement. Jeneffa Soldatic firmly directs her gifted cast in their multiple intersecting roles that asks the audience to really, really pay attention to details. Opening scene has the two married couples, (but not to each other), hook up with the person they just picked up. The four actors very timely overlap their lines in dueling scenes of seduction - one successful, one not so. The two couples in side-by-side motel rooms, follow fairly similar paths to get to their different results. Bovell's dialogue start with one couple and gets finished by the other with double meanings to the synchronized lines. As the play progresses, relationships become evident in a 'truth is stranger than fiction,' closer than 'six degrees of separation' kind of open-minded belief. Just go with it. Would have loved to be a fly on the wall in Bovell's room for his initial draft of this interlocking of characters.
As straying wife Sonja, Kym Wilson easily exhibits Sonja's self-doubts, her unpolished 'other woman' techniques, her drunk, sexy solo dances, her wounded scorned wife poutings. As Sarah, a bride-to-be leaving the groom-to-be at the altar, Wilson readily presents the flawed, inexcusable excuses for her habit of never taking responsibility.
Sonja's husband Leon receives a three-dimensional portrayal from Matt Passmore as the square-jawed cop who manages to reveal his own insecurities while always trying to hide his 'less macho,' emotional side. In Nick's version of a possibly fatal late night incident, Passmore more than convinces with Nick's narrative of his whereabouts.
Jamie Irvine transparently instills sensitivity in all three of his characters Neil, John and Pete. Irvine's jilted Neil's like an open, oozing wound. His wronged John debates whether he should have gone through with his one-night stand since his wife Jane just confessed to him she did. Irvine's guilt-ridden Pete wonders out loud if he shouldn't have just ended his marriage to Valerie before just wishing she wouldn't come home - the night Valerie went missing.
Tina Kobas as Jane, the wronged wife and 'other woman,' effortlessly delivers passion and condescending quips, while as Valerie the shrink, Kobas, with the appropriate authority, spouts disapproval and non-impartial judgments.
Lots of effective laugh moments intersperse to lighten the dead-serious subject of cheating and breaking up. Scenes in which one spouse finds themselves in the actual company of their cheater's partner - actually quite uncomfortably fun (Irvine with Passmore and Kobas with Wilson). If not for the strength of the acting skills of the four, the second act of this two-and-half-hour production would have been even more taxing in trying to keep the characters straight with the introduction/realization of four more interlinking characters.
Kudos to scenic designer John Iacovelli for his clean modernistic sets on rotating platforms. Effective choice of musical backgrounds and synced sound cues from sound designer Cricket Meyers.