Speaking in Tongues at Interrobang Theatre Project | Theater review
Andrew Bovell’s fugue on abandonment gets a chilly, cerebral staging.
Australian playwright Andrew Bovell’s 1996 fugue on abandonment follows the interconnected betrayals among nine loosely related characters. In Interrobang Theatre Project’s production, they’re played in the round by a quartet composed of Meg Elliott, Joe Flynn, Jenny Lamb and Neal Starbird. Two couples simultaneously flirt with the idea of infidelity, a man searches for his fiancée after her disappearance abroad and a good Samaritan is suspected of foul play after offering a ride to a woman who never arrives home to her husband. Bovell’s overlapping plot lines and sophisticated, interwoven dialogue recall his more recent When the Rain Stops Falling. In Tongues, written more than a decade earlier, the author’s hand in fine-tuning his stylistic gimmick is a little more apparent; as the production moves on, his parallel stories become more predictable and less revelatory.
Matters aren’t helped by Jeffry Stanton’s chilled staging, which sobers and makes cerebral the passion and supposed driving force in each of Bovell’s stories. On a Dogville-style set by Mike Mroch that maps out immobile and claustrophobic playing areas, Interrobang’s ensemble is confined upstage and veiled behind a gray fog. I wouldn’t have minded feeling some of the heat Stanton’s production seems bent on cooling.