Four actors play nine characters whose lives overlap and connect in different ways in Andrew Bovell's Speaking in Tongues.
Cate Clelland, who is directing Free-Rain's production of the award-winning 1996 Australian play, said, "It's a puzzle."
The viewer is expected to put the pieces of the narrative together but, Clelland said, "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.
Speaking in Tongues is about love and infidelity, mystery and loss, sex and death.
The characters are flawed and troubled people making and losing connections with each other.
"It's not laugh a minute, but it's amusing in places," Clelland said.
The play begins with two couples - Pete (played by Robbie Haltiner) is married to Jane (Jess Waterhouse), Leon (Arran McKenna) is married to Sonja (Steph Roberts).
The couples don't know each other and one night, by chance, each goes off with the other's spouse.
Pete and Sonja resist the temptation of a one-night stand, while Leon and Jane do not.
The stories come out later, raising questions for both couples.
Is intending to cheat the same as doing it? Can a marriage survive such an incident?
There are other characters and events.
Jane sees a neighbour throw a woman's shoe into a vacant lot. Is this suspicious or there is an innocent explanation?
Leon talks about a man he encountered more than once who wore brown brogues and who told a sad story about his long-lost love Sarah.
"They were about to marry and she went away and never came back," Clelland said.
Speaking in Tongues won the Australian Writers' Guild AWGIE award for best play and was adapted into the film Lantana (2001), written by Bovell and directed by Ray Lawrence, which won several Australian Film Institute awards including best film, director and adapted screenplay.
Roberts said, "All of the behaviours and characters have rippling consequences they can't necessarily predict at the time."
Sonya, Roberts' character in the first half of the play, has been married for many years to Leon and they have teenage children.
"She is unfulfilled on some level" - hence she considers the possibility of an extra-marital affair.
In the second half of the play, Roberts plays Sarah, "a troubled woman and not a particularly sympathetic character".
Sarah is self-involved and doesn't really consider the consequences of her actions on other people.
"She wants to be pursued by men but doesn't want anyone to need her - she likes the thrill of the chase."
But perhaps on some level Sarah isn't happy with the way her life is going.
"She's in therapy," Roberts said. Much of what we learn about Sarah comes out in her sessions with her therapist.
Roberts said 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.
While some elements of Speaking in Tongues come from its period - a phone booth and an answering machine play crucial roles - Roberts said the play's themes and ideas were timeless.
"Our relationships tie us to so many different people in so many ways."
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