It takes two to tango, or in the case of Speaking in Tongues, four. The play tells the story of two couples who unknowingly switch partners. Andrew Bovell adapted the work from his award-winning screenplay for the 2001 film Lantana. Bovell also wrote When the Rain Stops Falling that played at London’s Almeida Theatre in May, and co-wrote Strictly Ballroom with Baz Lurhman.
>The action begins with two scenes happening at the same time in one seedy, darkly lit hotel room. Both couples go through the motions, the men asking in unison “have you done this before?”, the women answering in unison either the same or different answers. It shows that they are not only all capable of committing infidelity, but that they all have the same desires, fears, and guilt, which makes them all human. It’s quick, clever, and instantly compelling.
Under Ben Stone’s direction the play is film-like with its tango-dancing interludes, slick scene changes, and visual backdrops. Excellent performances come from John Simm, from the television drama Life on Mars, as the confused cop Leon and Kerry Fox, from Shallow Grave, who plays “plain Jane” with low self-esteem.
The first half is full of deep emotion and the second half turns into a whodunit. Complications arise by having the actors take on multiple parts and the plot’s heavy reliance on chance encounters. It manages to keep you hooked however through its intensity, suspense, and fine performances. A hit.
Runs till 12 December.
To see or not to see: * * * *