JC’S THEATRE SPOTLIGHT – Speaking In Tongues

Two couples, each on the verge of straying from the marriage.  One follows through, one holds off.  And let the emotional fireworks begin.

From the bedroom scene that launches Andrew Bovell's Speaking In Tongues, which opens tonight (Jan. 27) at Neptune Theatre's Scotiabank Stage, you'll be swept along on a series of coincidental events.  And please excuse the wildly chatty foreplay of these guilt-ridden adulterers, desperate to understand what they’re doing in this tawdry setting with a stranger.  So much self-analysis is a lousy aphrodisiac, right?  But these are inner dialogues so many married people have battled through when contemplating infidelity.  Characters here care about their spouses, care about getting caught.  Yet they’re compelled to seek a fling, merely to satisfy some need.  

To drive home the universality of these feelings, various characters speak their lines simultaneously throughout the first two scenes.   It’s a powerful device, and intricately timed.  At a session with some Dal Theatre students after Thursday’s preview, the cast admitted those are tricky scenes and require constant practice to keep them tight.

As Tongues progresses, conversations that began as examinations of faithfulness splinter into tales of mystery and intrigue, until suddenly in Act II you're propelled into an episode of CSI: Halifax.  Well, there’s more than a passing nod to the American Noir Crime novels that Bovell was into while working on the script.  (“A lost love reappears.  A pair of shoes abandoned on the beach.  A woman vanishes without a trace,” as the promo material teases.)  Sure, it’s a tad melodramatic, but some cleverly woven web tangling if you're able to keep all the overlapping relationships straight. 

Speaking In Tongues could be set in present day, except for the striking changes to our tech world since it first appeared in Australia in 1998.   Phone booths, answering machines, and a lack of cell phones are anachronisms that help build the drama.  Remember when it wasn’t always so easy to reach your partner, and when you survived despite not knowing where they were at every moment?

Speaking In Tongues is the 10th Anniversary production of DMV Theatre, a Halifax-based indie collective.  It’s the kind of challenging and ambitious theatre that has found a welcome home on the studio stage at Neptune.  But catch it while you can, the production runs this weekend only and closes Sunday.