Speaking in Tongues, Act I
Other Plays by Andrew Bovell
Bovell, Andrew (Australian playwright, 19__-____), “Speaking in Tongues,” Act I,
a __-minute drama in English, set simultaneously in similar motel rooms, Australia, 2001,
© 2001 by Andrew Bovell;
• in Andrew Bovell’s Speaking in Tongues, Act I (New York: The Author, 2001);
• script/rights available from Andrew Bovell, c/o The MoMA Gramercy Theatre, 127 East 23rd Street, Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
• Reviewed by Bruce Weber; Weber says,
Leon (m), husband to Sonja; Pete (m), husband to Jane; Jane (f), wife to Pete; Sonja (f), wife to Leon.
“It is about two couples — Leon and Sonja, Pete and Jane — whose marriages are both suffering the strain of midlife ennui, and it begins with an obvious comic contrivance. On the same night, each of the four characters is out alone prowling for an adulterous encounter, and they inadvertently trade partners. As the play opens, Leon and Sonja have nervously retreated to one motel room, Pete and Jane to another, and the seductions are both in progress. The situations are so similar that they are speaking mostly the same dialogue, often in tandem, a purposeful, trenchant and amusing parallel that suddenly shifts when Leon and Jane go through with the infidelity and Pete and Sonja do not. The rest of the act is about the repercussions in each marriage, and it ends with two delicious monologues about events that occurred while the couples were separated. They’re narratives themselves, really, terrific stories with only suggestive meanings but unmistakable poignance. One, about a despondent man and a mysterious pair of brown shoes, is told by Leon to Sonja; the other, told by Jane to Pete, involves a missing woman, the ominous behavior of their neighbor and another shoe, a woman’s high heel. Together, they explain why one marriage will survive and the other won’t.”—Bruce Weber, “Theatre Review: With Smoke and Mirrors, Love of Sorts,” The New York Times, November 16, 2001, p. E8.
• “The first act . . . is clever, provocative, elliptically resonant and writerly. It is also complete enough in itself and distinct enough from the second act, which is merely clever (and not clever enough), that anyone who leaves at intermission should be satisfied. . . . One question you’re left with is where the play has left to go. And where it goes is, more or less, to another play . . . .
• By Andrew Bovell; directed by Mark Clements; sets by Richard Hoover; costumes by Jess Goldstein; lighting by Brian MacDevitt; original music and sound by Scott Myers; projection design by Elaine J. McCarthy; production stage manager, Jay Adler; technical supervisor, Steve Beers; associate artistic director, Scott Ellis; director of artistic development, Jim Carnahan; general management, Jason P. McLaughlin and Catharine Guiher. Presented by the Roundabout Theater Company, Todd Haimes, artistic director; Ellen Richard, managing director; Julia C. Levy, executive director, external affairs. At the Gramercy Theater, 127 East 23rd Street, Manhattan. WITH: Karen Allen (Jane and Valerie), Kevin Anderson (Leon and Nick), Margaret Colin (Sonja and Sarah) and Michel R. Gill (Pete, Neil and John).”—Weber, p. E8.
adultery, marriage, midlife ennui, motel, survival.