Saturday, October 28, 2023


Written by Andrew Bovell

Directed by Cate Clelland

A Free Rain production

ACT HUB theatre, Kingston to 4 November


Reviewed by Len Power 27 October 2023


Two couples planning to betray their spouses, meet up with strangers in a bar. A lover from the past wants to confront a woman to find out why she left him many years before, a neighbour is seen getting rid of a woman’s shoe mysteriously from his car late one night and the husband of a woman who has disappeared feels guilty because he did not answer her increasingly frantic phone messages.

In ‘Speaking In Tongues’, the random meetings of 2 couples set off a chain of events that are like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  Incidents related by the characters that seem random eventually fit the overall picture, making it all a compelling and involving study of marital infidelity, guilt, poor communication and the nature of love.  Sadly, strangers are able to confide in other strangers but not with their own husbands and wives.

Australian playwright, Andrew Bovell’s play was first produced in 1996.  The award-winning play has since been produced nationally and internationally and was successfully adapted for the screen as ‘Lantana’.

The four actors playing nine characters artfully bring these people to life. Steph Roberts, Arran McKenna, Jess Waterhouse and Robbie Haltiner all give extraordinarily real performances.  Their vocal delivery and the non-verbal aspects of their characters have been carefully thought out.

Arran McKenna, Steph Roberts, Jess Waterhouse and Robbie Haltiner

Cate Clelland’s production has a simple but practical setting of moveable boxes that depicts the various scenes. While the movement in the play has been carefully staged, the scene changes by the actors themselves in half-light are a distraction from the fine atmosphere that has been carefully built up during the scenes.

Otherwise, the director, Cate Clelland, has obtained impressive, in-depth performances from her highly capable cast. Every moment rings true in this very entertaining and ingenious play.


Photo by Janelle McMenamin

Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at