Power of deceit explored in Belfry’s latest


Speaking in Tongues, the internationally acclaimed play by Australian playwright Andrew Bovell, is making an appearance at Victoria’s Belfry Theatre this month and the next. Nine interrelated characters, played by four actors, force themselves into a false sense of fulfillment through lies, deceit and infidelity.

“I think the play asks us to question the lies that we tell ourselves and the fictions that we create in our world,” says Belfry artistic director Michael Shamata. “Some that we believe and some that we ask other people to believe.”

The Company Theatre production (in association with Canadian Stage) finished a run of the show in Toronto this past fall with direction by Philip Riccio.

“It’s always great when you have an opportunity as a company to play a show and then jump back into rehearsals with it just to go deeper and to re-examine certain elements and certain moments,” says Shamata, who saw the production in Toronto and loved it.

Combining elements of mystery, thriller and erotic drama, the provocative story promises to compel Victoria audiences. Though the show is edgy in terms of its content, Shamata is convinced Victorians will engage thoughtfully with it.

“Our audiences here really enjoy plays that look at the world a bit differently, that provoke thought and consideration,” he says.

Though the set is sparse, the complexity of the play comes in the form of rotating actors. Richard Clarkin, Jonathan Goad, Helene Joy and Yanna McIntosh each play two or three different roles, exemplifying parallels between characters through both role-switching and dialogue.

“It’s like a prism. It’s like looking at someone from different viewpoints — the way they are seen and the way they see themselves,” says Shamata.

The slow revelation of information and revolving points of view imposed by Bovell provide the effect of an unravelling mystery.

In our interview, Shamata poses some of the fundamental questions explored in the play: “What’s the line between truth and fiction — how do we negotiate that? How do we use it to our own advantage, and how are we also victims of it?”


Speaking in Tongues
Jan. 22 – Feb. 24 @ the Belfry Theatre
Show times vary
Tickets range from $25–$40
Student discount: 25 per cent off
(excluding Friday and Saturday 8 p.m. shows and opening night)