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Canberra Today 8°/13° | Friday, May 24, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Complicated web of emotional drama

Speaking In Tongues-from left Arran McKenna, Jess Waterhouse Steph Roberts, and Robbie Haltiner. Photo: Janelle McMenamin

Theatre / “Speaking in Tongues”, by Andrew Bovell, directed by Cate Clelland. At ACT Hub until  November 4. Reviewed by ARNE FEALING.

A CONDENSED and complicated web of interaction with enough emotional drama and psychological motivation to keep you thinking, this troupe of actors led by director Cate Clelland were more than capable of delivering on the task of communicating it.

Adapted into the Australian landmark film “Lantana”, this play is condensed – leaving the audience glued to the action and dialogue.

Interestingly, Andrew Bovell wrote the screenplay for “Strictly Ballroom” – and his stage play for “Speaking in Tongues” begins with dancing, while a pair of couples are introduced. And immediately there is a twist.

With Arran McKenna as Leon and Nick, Steph Roberts as Sonja and Sarah, Robbie Haltiner as Pete, Neil and John and Jess Waterhouse as Jane and Valerie – their deep, emotionally real performances made sure the complicated narrative was delivered in such a way that losing attention was virtually impossible.

In a very sparse space, with virtually no props to speak of, the story and cast were the focal point. How much movement and pace is available to deliver a complicated plot is a fluid thing. Here, Clelland and cast opt for a reasonably static approach. This created tension, drew it out, and deepened the sense of emotional trauma.

Engagingly, the rhythm flowed deliberately adding to the sense of increasing depression and impending disaster. This quickened later, as the story moved toward a realisation of this.

With two acts, and engrossing and powerful character portrayals, “Speaking in Tongues” was a night at the theatre that gave insight into humanity inside the lives of married couples, the motivations of love, complacency and unrequited desires, and presented the impact of unexpected trauma on the psyche of those involved.

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