Tongue Tied – Kings Cross Theatre (NSW)
Written by Clare Hennessy. Directed by Sarah Hadley. Akimbo + Co in association with bAKEHOUSE theatre.
Reviewed by Justin Clarke
Rating: 3 out of 5.
11th-26th November Kings Cross Theatre Tickets: http://www.kingsxtheatre.com/tongue-tied
*This review discusses themes of sexual assault*
Akimbo + Co presents the long-awaited production of Tongue Tied, which has been gestating throughout the lockdowns of the past few years and arrives to help see out the last few shows at the Kings Cross Theatre. Written by Clare Hennessy, Tongue Tied isn’t aiming to be revolutionary in its premise but finds its golden quality in between the lines of Hennessy’s writing. Navigating trauma, seeking justice, and repairing our lives comes to the forefront of the #MeToo era story of this production.
Director Sarah Hadley dresses the set as if bought from IKEA, it feels extremely new on the surface, with a mix of screens on the stage wall on which an ad for the latest product of Michael C Howlett’s Jonathan’s Juice Company is displayed. Beneath the surface however, you can tell there’s something off putting about the space and the environment. This is soon confirmed for us as reporter Mia (Eloise Snape) dutifully questions the tongue-tied PR Manager, Parker (Kieran Clancy-Lowe) over an alleged sexual assault of former employee Sarah (Alex Stamell).
Hennessy has a knack for dark humour and dredges up the insufferable traits of men with too much money and privilege in her dialogue. Clancy-Lowe’s Parker aims to appease Mia in his fish out of water situation, while Snape charges through Parker’s defences every chance she gets. Snape indeed is the fixed point of this production and its really her that gets the lions share of character development throughout while a majority of the cast (bar Clancy-Lowe) sits in the wings waiting.
The show itself seems to be more about the relationship between Mia and Parker. Their ongoing discussions about right and wrong, action and inaction, truth and justice make up the majority of the piece.
Tongue Tied tends to blur the lines between being a Bombshell-esque journey for journalistic retribution, and a story about Sarah’s journey to outrun her trauma. In her writer’s note, Hennessy very clearly articulates the overarching concepts of her play in such beautiful depth and detail, if only this made it through to her character’s dialogue. There were instances of too much telling and needed a trust in an audience to piece together the intricacies that Hennessy created in the foundations of her piece.
As a bare bones, Tongue Tied has the potential to not dissipate into the gaps of the many #MeToo era plays of recent years
The final moments of the play between Sarah and Jonathan were the most tense, and it was here that the audience were hooked. A small twitch of the finger, slight widening of the eyes and moments of silence between the pair gave the piece a hair-raising finale that could have been utilised further.
The plot lends itself to easily secure an audience’s attention. It seemed a missed opportunity then that Hadley didn’t do more with the cast of five that she had. The scene changes and lighting design were in constant oppositions of each other, with lights flickering on and off at certain points, and what should have been a simple shift of a table into a new scene became a mammoth task of movement.
As a bare bones, Tongue Tied has the potential to not dissipate into the gaps of the many #MeToo era plays of recent years, but instead stand as a fierce and devastating reflection of the inaction of others that affects the many. With further refinement and a boost of experimentalism to develop Hennessy’s solid foundations, Tongue Tied is one that would be a welcome return to continue to witness its development.
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Director Sarah Hadley Writer Clare Hennessy Assistant Director Mathew Lee Production Designer Cris Baldwin Lighting Design Aron Murray Sound Design Johnny Yang Stage Manager Bree Spaccavento Produced by Rebecca Blake and Jessica Pantano
with Eloise Snape, Kieran Clancy-Lowe, Alex Stamell, Michael C Howlett, Clementine Anderson and Di Adams
Presented by Akimbo + Co