Speaking in Tongues Review - Feelings and Emotions are Unpredictable

Diversity is fast becoming the hallmark of the Los Angeles theater scene. To demonstrate, the Australian Theater Company (ATC) is offering a “double feature” this year. ATC was formed to create paying work for Australian actors in America, especially in Los Angeles. Other goals for the ATC include breaking down some of the negative stereotypes that Americans might have Australians-for example, low self-esteem, alcoholism, racism, and homophobia.

Jamie Irvine, Tina Kobas, Kym Wilson, and Matt Passmore - Photo by Adrian Wlodarczyck

Playwright Andrew Bovell’s SPEAKING IN TONGUES is one of the ATC productions being offered this year. Bovell describes this play as “…about contracts being broken between intimates while deep bonds are forged between strangers…it’s about people yearning for meaning and grabbing on to small moments of hope and humor to combat an increasing sense of alienation…the play is written in two halves…each with a particular tone…it has been written for four actors, but there are nine characters in three parts.”

Matt Passmore and Tina Kobas - Photo by Suzanne Strong

The first act concerns a mash-up of two couples, each spouse cheating with the other’s spouse. In fact, one member of each couple often delivers exactly the same lines while on the opposite side of the stage. While this is an interesting technique, it was also sometimes difficult to follow. The play goes on to explore what happens when it is “confession time.”

Jamie Irvine and Kyn Wilson - Photo by Suzanne Strong

The second act embarks on a different tack but uses the same actors – again playing multiple roles. This tale concerns the mysterious disappearance of a woman whose husband may be relieved by her absence, especially since he is in love with someone else. Another interesting technique is employed in Act II. Each of the characters is having exactly the same dream. The question is why. The absent wife is a therapist whose female client is apparently the lover of the therapist’s husband. The police detective who is investigating the case may have slipped in from Act I. Again, multiple relationships are intertwined in the story. At times this slippery story is difficult to follow; but it is always intriguing. Let’s keep ATC productions coming!

Jamie Irvine, Tina Kobas, Matt Passmore, and Kym Wilson - Photo by Suzanne Strong

The cast of four covers a multitude of personalities. Jamie Irvine (Pete/Neil/John), Tina Kobas (Jane/Valerie), Matt Passmore (Leon/Nick), and Kym Wilson (Sonja/Sarah) are the skilled actors who pull the disparate elements of SPEAKING IN TONGUES together. Talented director Jeneffa Soldatic manages to keep the cast on track even as the story meanders along in multiple directions. John Iacovelli’s scenic design is simple and effective. Jared Sayeg’s lighting, Cricket Meyers’ sound, and Kate Bergh’s costume designs enhance the production. In addition, this creative team uses its skills for both of the “double feature” ATC productions.

Matt Passmore and Jamie Irvine - Photo by Suzanne Strong

SPEAKING IN TONGUES runs through June 27, 2016, with performances at 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sundays. The Matrix Theatre is located at 7657 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046. One play costs 34.99, while both plays in the double feature are $50. For information and reservations call 323-960-4443 or go online at www.AustralianTheaterCompany.com.


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