What do you think is the most important thing for a couple to maintain their relationship safely and permanently? There might be various answers, but among them, there is trust for each other. Couples cannot see each other all the time, nor can they truly know what their loving partners are thinking. For the parts that one cannot see, one has to rely on trust to fill the gaps. It is for this reason that when the trust begins to break down, it becomes harder to maintain the relationship. Speaking in Tongues successfully describes such aspects of human relationships.
This play is a story of those who are deprived, a confession of those who have lost something,” said the announcement before the play started. It is often not hard to tell the main plot and summarize a typical play into a single sentence, but Speaking in Tongues was a little different. For its unique characteristic of actors playing double roles and knotty plots, it is hard to grab the main idea and the theme of the play at first glance. Yet, this is the part that is intriguing, and the sentence provided by the announcement before the play serves as a compass to navigate throughout this complicated play.
Speaking in Tongues consists of three acts. The first act is a story about two couples who cheated on each other’s husband and wife. The second act deals with a story about a mysterious disappearance and a man longing for his old lover. The last act deals more deeply with the events of the second act. Each act seems distinct and disconnected, but the stories intertwine with each other in the end, and are all talking about the same theme—love and trust— which are deprived from all characters of the play. It is true that when seen at first sight, some scenes could be awkward and the big picture could be hard to understand, yet such features make the play more dramatic, and enable the audience to feel catharsis.
▲ In the play, multiple events are happening simultaneously in a single scene. Provided byJungculture and Soohyunjae Company.
Aside from a complicated plot line, another interesting feature of Speaking in Tongues is the double roles of the actors and actresses. There are nine characters, who are played by only four people. The double roles in Speaking in Tongues are important in that it could effectively deliver the message of the play, by giving the justification for the characters, which makes the audience to have sympathy with them. These two make the play more fresh and attractive, but ironically, those make the audience to put more efforts purely to understand the plotline itself; it hinders the audience to focus on understanding the play as it is and figure out the main theme. The main theme—love, trust, and relationship—could only be delivered after the audience has understood the main plot, and such features that make the audience difficult to understand the plotline may be irritating to some.
The complicated plotline and double roles are designed to make the audience effectively understand the main theme of the play, but difficult to link the character to a single actor. It wants the audience not to link a specific actor to a specific character, but to view the characters as they are. The play thereby encourages the audience to feel sympathy with the characters, and makes the audience project themselves onto the characters.
▲ The actors and actresses talk to each other, but their messages do not get through therecipient, and often they fail to communicate with each other. Provided by Jungcultureand Soohyunjae Company.
During the play, there are numerous scenes where multiple events are going along simultaneously, and often the lines are split between the actors—a sentence is completed by multiple actors. It is somewhat similar to a reenactment. The most notable thing is that in most scenes, although there is conversation, there do not lay the respondents, or the other party of the communication. Or they sometimes pretend as if they are talking to someone who is not there. When looking at the conflicts in the play, all of them result from a lack of communication and disconnection, which is followed with a lack of trust and a breaking down of belief in each other. The play effectively delivers the main message—lack of communication—by continuously implementing these scenes. Such scenes, although common in other plays as well, are particularly meaningful in Speaking in Tongues, in that it is directly related to the overall idea of the play.
“In a ‘normal’ relationship, a simple word is all we need to have trust with each other—at least it should be,” said Jane, one of the characters, in the first act. Yet, just like the saying, “A broken friendship may be soldered, but will never be sound,” the same is true for trust. When the trust between each other is broken, it is not only hard to regain it, but the process is extremely painful. In today’s society, many are losing faith, and make numerous mistakes to their precious ones, which lead to the broken trust with each other.
▲ In this scene, four events: woman calling her husband, a suspect making testimony,man writing to his old lover, and woman receiving the letters happen at the same time.Provided by Jungculture and Soohyunjae Company.
“It is not hard to betray one twice—at least not as hard as betraying one for the first time,” said Pete, husband of Jane, who cheated with Sonja and Leon, respectively. In the latter act, John says, “I did not betray my wife; I just met her expectation that I will betray her in the end.” When trust is broken, one naturally suspects the other, thinking that he or she may have done something without letting you know, and this naturally makes the other to be exhausted and frustrated. In the end, he or she may actually do something that they were suspected of, thereby fulfilling the unwanted expectation of suspect, terminating the relationship. Speaking in Tongues effectively delivers the messages of broken trust, vanishing communication, and termination of relationships. The main theme is not instilled to the audience, but the play makes the spectators think and figure out for themselves—which is another appealing point of Speaking in Tongues.
Date : May 1 to July 19
Place : Soohyunjae Theater, Daehak-ro
Running Time : 130 min (includes 10 min intermission)
Ticket Price : 50,000 won (30 percent discount for students)