Reviews – Speaking In Tongues

18 November 2023

Free-Rain Theatre Company’s production of the play ‘Speaking In Tongues’ by Andrew Bovell ran from Thursday 25 October til 4 November 2023 at ACT Hub in the Causeway Hall in Kingston. Below is a collection of the news and reviews.


Speaking In Tongues – Canberra Critics Circle
– Len Power 27/10/23

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.

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.

Complicated web of emotional drama – City News
– Arne Fealing 26/10/23

Engrossing and powerful character portrayals.

A condensed and complicated web of interaction with enough emotional drama and psychological motivation to keep you thinking, this troupe of actors led by director Cate Clelland were more than capable of delivering on the task of communicating it. … Their deep, emotionally real performances made sure the complicated narrative was delivered in such a way that losing attention was virtually impossible.

Speaking In Tongues – That guy who watches Canberra Theatre blog
– Simon Tolhurst 26/10/23

Cate Clelland’s production is simple … but relishes in the intimacy and direct connection between actor and audience that this allows.

The play is a challenging work for actors – a piece for a quartet with an opening twenty minutes consisting largely of overlapping dialogue where two characters are saying exactly the same phrase at the same time, followed by extensive scenes of duologues and interweaving monologues. There’s a challenge in the opening twenty minutes to keep the dialogue synchronous yet create individual characters, and then in the later scenes to maintain a connection even when you’re the silent one on stage. All four cast members pass this test with aplomb and stop the show from feeling like just a technical exercise, into something vibrant and emotionally true.

This is a powerful, compelling jigsaw puzzle of a play, where in this production the pieces are painted boldly and strongly enough to pull them together with ease. It’s gripping, funny, truthful and painful, and altogether powerful, pure theatre. 


How much suspicion can a relationship take? – City News
– Helen Musa 17/10/23

Clelland, one of Canberra’s most seasoned directors, is staging the play for Free Rain Theatre and has been busy finding the heart and humanity in what is essentially a piece about relationships. As well, Bovell’s play poses moral and philosophical questions that would have challenged the mind of St Paul, such as whether, if you intend to cheat, is that the same as actually doing it? “Because of this complexity, the whole thing has been very collaborative,” she says.

The play, she explains, is really a series of themes and variations, perhaps like a fugue in music. In the end, she says, ‘Speaking in Tongues’ is about love and loss, with parallels all over the place and a mystery at the centre.

Andrew Bovell’s Speaking In Tongues is about life’s complexities – Canberra Times – Ron Cerabona 23/10/23

Director, Cate Clelland said, “It’s a puzzle. The viewer is expected to put the pieces of the narrative together but, it’s not a rectangular puzzle that fits neatly together and in place… Even the title is not explained, leaving the audience to ponder possible meanings.

Actor Steph Roberts said, “All of the behaviours and characters have rippling consequences they can’t necessarily predict at the time… the play was a challenge for the cast, with everyone playing at least two characters (differentiated through costume as well as performance) and, working with Clelland, figuring out the storylines and connections among the characters and the meanings behind the words.”