Plays by Andrew Bovell

Speaking in Tongues

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Andrew Bovell's Speaking in Tongues is a play about marital infidelity, with multiple narratives and a mystery at its core. It was first performed on 6 August 1996 in a production by Griffin Theatre Company at The Stables, Sydney, Australia. It was later adapted by Bovell into the screenplay for the feature film Lantana (2001).

Comprising three parts, the play begins with two married couples (Pete and Jane, and Leon and Sonja) embarking on one-night stands: Pete with Sonja, and Leon with Jane. Although Leon and Jane carry through with the infidelity where Pete and Sonja don't, both couples echo each other's dialogue. When the characters are reunited with their spouses, Jane has an unnerving story to tell about seeing a bloodied neighbour hurling a woman's shoe into a rubbish dump. The ramifications of this are explored in the next part, although this part features four new characters: Sarah, Valerie (Sarah's therapist), Neil (Sarah's ex-boyfriend) and Nick (Jane and Pete's neighbour). In the final part, when the narrative mystery is resolved, Leon, Sarah and Valerie return, and are joined by John (Valerie's husband).

The script states that 'Each part has been written for four actors: two men and two women'. It is common in production for the entire play to be performed by just four actors (playing nine characters), reinforcing the play's structural echoes and symmetries.

The Griffin Theatre Company premiere was directed by Ros Horin and designed by Liane Wilcher, with Elaine Hudson as Jane/Valerie, Glenda Linscott as Sonja/Sarah, Geoff Morrell as Pete/Neil/John and Marshall Napier as Leon/Nick.

The play was first performed in the UK at Hampstead Theatre, London, on 8 June 2000 in a production directed by Mark Clements and designed by Niki Turner, with Juliet Prew as Jane/Valerie, Katherine Rogers as Sonja/Sarah, Nigel Le Vaillant as Pete/Neil/John and Jonathan Guy Lewis as Leon/Nick.

It was revived at the Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End on 28 September 2009 (previews from 18 September), in a production directed by Toby Frow and designed by Ben Stones, with Lucy Cohu as Sonja/Valerie, Kerry Fox as Jane/Sarah, Ian Hart as Pete/Neil/John and John Simm as Leon/Nick.

When the Rain Stops Falling

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Andrew Bovell's When the Rain Stops Falling is a play about family, betrayal and forgiveness, spanning four generations and two hemispheres. It was commissioned and first produced by Brink Productions in Australia, developed in collaboration with Hossein Valamanesh. It premiered at the Scott Theatre, University of Adelaide, on 28 February 2008, co-presented by Brink Productions, the State Theatre Company of South Australia and the 2008 Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts.

The play begins in Australia in 2039, in remote Alice Springs. A fish has fallen from the sky and landed at the feet of Gabriel York, who has been wondering what to serve his son Andrew, reunited with him after years of estrangement. The action then moves backwards and forwards across several different time zones. In a small flat in London in 1959, the marriage of Henry and Elizabeth Law (Gabriel York's grandparents) shows strains when odd incidents begin to befall Henry after the couple’s son (Gabriel Law) is born. In the same London flat in 1988, Gabriel Law’s relationship with his mother Elizabeth has soured owing to her reticence about his father Henry’s mysterious disappearance when his son was just 7 years old. Gabriel's unease ultimately sends him on a journey to Australia, where he meets a lonely young woman, Gabrielle York, with her own story of familial woe: she lost both her parents in the aftermath of a tragedy involving her brother’s disappearance.

The Scott Theatre premiere was directed by Chris Drummond and designed by Hossein Valamanesh.

The play received its European premiere at the Almeida Theatre, London, on 15 May 2009, directed by Michael Attenborough and designed by Miriam Buether.

It was premiered in the US at the Lincoln Center Theater in March 2010, directed by David Cromer.

Picture of Andrew Bovell

Andrew Bovell is an Australian playwright and screenwriter. His plays include An Ocean Out of My Window (Gorman House Community Arts Centre, Canberra, 1986); Ship of Fools (Wetpak Theatre, Adelaide, 1988); After Dinner (La Mama Theatre, Carlton, 1988); The Ballad of Lois Ryan (Newcastle RSL Club, NSW, 1988); Speaking in Tongues (Griffin Theatre Company at the Stables Theatre, 1996 and Hampstead Theatre, 2000 and winner of 1997 Australian Writers’ Guild Award); Holy Day (The Playhouse, Adelaide, 2001 and winner of the 2002 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award); When the Rain Stops Falling (Brink Productions/Scott Theatre, Adelaide, 2008 and Almeida Theatre, 2009) and a stage adaptation of Kate Grenville’s The Secret River (Sydney Theatre Company, 2013). He has collaborated on several projects including Scenes from a Separation co-written with Hannie Rayson (Fairfax Studio, Melbourne, 1995) and Who’s Afraid of the Working Class? co-written with Christos Tsiolkas, Melissa Reeves, Patricia Cornelius and Irene Vela (Trades Hall, Carlton, 1998) and the feature films Strictly Ballroom with Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce and Head On with Ana Kokkinos and Mira Robertson. Other film credits include Blessed (2009), Edge of Darkness (2010) and A Most Wanted Man (2014). His screenplay Lantana was based on his play Speaking in Tongues. The film opened to critical acclaim in 2001, winning seven AFI Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay. He was named Screenwriter of the Year in 2002 by the London Film Critics’ Circle.