Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

16/08/2013 - 14/09/2013

Production Details


Silo is all set to play dangerous games of deceit and desire, as they return to the work of one of Australia’s most celebrated writers and the creative mind behind their incredible 2010 production of  WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING. Playwright Andrew Bovell seduces audiences with the classic psychological thriller SPEAKING IN TONGUES, playing at the Herald Theatre from August 15th. 

Nine parallel lives interlocked by three infidelities, one missing person and a missing stiletto. Two couples set out to betray their partners…A lover returns from the past and a husband doesn’t answer the phone…A woman disappears and a neighbour is the prime suspect…Contracts are broken between intimates and powerful bonds are formed between strangers. How far would you go to feel something? 

Inspired by the work of legendary filmmaker Robert Altman, Bovell’s work employs a playful and highly inventive structure where content, form and seemingly unrelated narrative demonstrate the strangled communication between men and women. Characters speak the same dialogue but can’t access what is being really said, as nine lives are flung into a complex web of contemporary relationships.

SPEAKING IN TONGUES is now hailed as a contemporary classic, having made a significant impact on Australian culture. It was transformed into the multi-award winning hit film LANTANA with Geoffrey Rush, Barbara Hershey and Anthony LaPaglia, which went on to win 34 awards internationally in 2001.

Bovell is one of Australia’s most prolific writers. In an illustrious career, he has received the Australian Writers Guild Award on nine separate occasions, penned the screenplays for Baz Luhrmann’s STRICTLY BALLROOM and the forthcoming A MOST WANTED MAN with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams and Willem Dafoe. His adaptation of Kate Grenville’s THE SECRET RIVER was the hit of the 2013 Sydney Festival.

Artistic Director Shane Bosher has cast a quartet of Auckland’s greatest talent for this new addition to Silo’s 2013 programme; artists who have over time become synonymous with the Silo personality:

OLIVER DRIVER  who returns to the stage after a four-year hiatus away directing Shortland Street

STEPHEN LOVATT  recently onscreen in Harry and to be seen in Gaylene Preston’s forthcoming Hope & Wire

ALISON BRUCE  recently onscreen in Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake and The Almighty Johnsons

LUANNE GORDON  returning to NZ following a stint working in the UK in television productions such as Shameless

Told with his inimitable, visually arresting style, Bosher’s production promises to be a provocative, evocative mystery of fate, chance and consequence. 

…a richly entertaining modern classic. A must-see.” – The Australian


15th August – 14th September 2013 (Monday and Tuesday 7pm, Wednesday to Saturday 8pm)
Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, THE EDGE
Preview: Thursday 15th August
Opening Night: Friday 16th August 
Open Dialogue: Wednesday 28th August
Tickets: $20 – $39 (service fees apply).

Bookings: THE EDGE – 0800 BUYTICKETS or www.buytickets.co.nz

Actors portray strong emotional ties to multiplicity of characters

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 20th Aug 2013

The complex structure places extraordinary demands on the actors, who rise to the challenge with finely judged performances. Silo Theatre’s commitment to challenging theatre is displayed with panache in a superb production of the play that gave birth to the ground-breaking Australian film Lantana

Playwright Andrew Bovell brilliantly deploys the intricate counterpoint and self-referencing variations found in Bach’s fugues, and Shane Bosher’s precise staging is finely attuned to the musical quality of the script. [More]


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Lucid, defined and clear

Review by Stephanie Johnson 19th Aug 2013

Australian playwright Andrew Bovell’s more recent work When The Rain Stops Falling produced by the Silo in 2010 begins with a fish dropping from the sky to land at the feet of the main protagonist. That excellent play, set in the near future, concerns itself with climate change and environmental ruin, a wider global picture playing out around the disintegrating family relationships of the characters.

Speaking in Tongues is also concerned with relationships, but purely of those between men and women, with little of the wider world intruding. In the opening scene two couples occupy two motel rooms. All are married, but not to each other, and all are intent on committing adultery. Dialogue is quick and witty, with lines crossing over the top of one another and at times forming a chorus. [More]


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A tangle of emotional tightropes that demand to be walked

Review by Adey Ramsel 17th Aug 2013

A potential powder keg follows us out of the theatre after witnessing Silo’s latest production of Andrew Bovell’s multi-layered and wildly poetic play. 

Right? Or wrong? How do we conduct ourselves emotionally, how do we bare our strengths, or more importantly our weaknesses to others? What binds us to some people but not others and how can fleeting moments between strangers reveal more about ourselves, our inner workings and maybe our more solid relationships than we thought possible?

These, and many more questions, theories and ruminations are the stuff of arguments, drunken brawls and darkened debate. Whether on the way home in the car, in the local burger joint or lying side by side in bed, I guarantee the majority of tonight’s audience feel compelled to discuss what this play is asking of us. And if not, then hey, that yells more about us than anything spoken.

Bovell’s script yearns to be discussed. It tracks several storylines, some going round in circles, others ending suddenly, while others hover in the air resting only in the final moments of the play. With each narrative I feel we are being asked to take sides, however when more than one character re-emerges in another situation tied by a similar theme, we’re aware that everyone is on both the right and wrong track. Whichever side we take, further down the line we could be wrong-footed. A script that changes your mind as often as every few pages, is a script I feel myself wanting to read.

Shane Bosher proves once again why he has led this dazzling company for so many years. His direction is crystal clear. Four cast members play nine characters with the narrative simple and pure.

John Verryt’s set design takes advantage of the Herald’s wide, open-ended stage, sectioning off distinct areas for focus and clarity. A simple but effective device towards the middle of Act Two gives the cast a refreshing new area to play in and, coupled with Sean Lynch’s startling lighting design, provides location, atmosphere and division. To my mind a contrasting sense of claustrophobia is set against a feeling that you can hide nothing, you are always on show, physically and emotionally. 

Fresh from channelling Billy Connolly in Anne Boleyn, Stephen Lovatt is controlled and nicely contrasts two roles that not only sit on both sides of the law but also the heart. One yearns to be loved and missed by his wife; the other has the love from his wife but goes looking for more.

Alison Bruce commands attention in her portrayal as Valerie with two outstanding moments of terrified paranoia, one almost ‘Hitchcock’ in effect as she flees from what she believes to be a threatening situation.

Luanne Gordon probably has the more difficult doubling to carry out, with both roles of Jane and Sarah similarly young, pretty and vulnerable. Whereas Sarah is unhinged though, Jane seems sweet natured and tender and yet it is this sweet character that brings about the downfall of one of the others. Wanting to do what’s best, she makes it worse, whereas Sarah knows exactly what she is doing and who she is hurting.

These nuances seep out of Gordon’s portrayal and slap more questions in our face – who’s to say who’s right or wrong?  And who’s worse, the one who does wrong but believes she does right or the one who knows she’s wrong but can’t help it?

Thoughts like these are relative and we are all left, no doubt, with our own interpretation and nagging thoughts – highlighting, once more, the deep texture of the writing.

Oliver Driver gives the first two of his three roles a sense of the underdog but a dog that loves to be kicked when down. John, the third character, has some guts to him: the intellectual, office boy whose rivers run deep. It is John who ties up some of the loose ends and through this we see he’s both in control and yet still a victim of his own life, love and wife. 

Quite a number of plays declare that they question who we are as people, a race and a world, but few rarely deliver. Bovell’s script questions not only who we are in relation to others but how we use those people and their own emotions, coupled with ours.

It seems our desire to love is coupled with our desire to be loved; if we give in wholeheartedly to one, the other must surely follow. But then what also follows is a vulnerability of being left wide open to hurt which feels like a weakness. Commitment to wherever you pin your heart, hope and faith can so easily seem like a weakness in achieving it, or a strength in resisting it. Each of must find our own way.

Speaking In Tongues is a tangle of emotional tightropes that demand to be walked and resolved within us. It is tense, highly theatrical and charged through and through with a pace and energy that belies an electrical undercurrent of desire, want and need.


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