Venue: Kings Cross Theatre (Kings Cross NSW), Nov 11 – 26, 2022
Playwright: Clare Hennessy
Director: Sarah Hadley
Cast: Di Adams, Clementine Anderson, Kieran Clancy-Lowe, Michael C Howlett, Madelaine Osbourne, Eloise Snape
Images by Clare Hawley
Rising star journalist Mia is investigating a case of sexual assault, at a Sydney beverage company. The bigwig accused of the crime refuses to speak, and has sent publicist Parker to ameliorate. Clare Hennessy’s Tongue Tied is concerned with the ethics around reportage, especially as they pertain to the privacy rights of victims. We also examine the nature of sex crimes from the perspective of the survivor, and the complications that are no doubt involved, in how one chooses to move forward from a devastating incident.
There is charming dialogue to be found in Hennessy’s writing, but the intentional ambiguities built into the narrative of Tongue Tied tends to form a detraction, from the dramatic tensions that should ensue. Although there is an abundance of care for its flawed characters that prevents them from turning caricature, it is likely that audiences would find none of them particularly appealing. In a play with nobody to root for, we are left cold. Direction by Sarah Hadley bears a tepidity that makes things feel overly distanced, for a discussion that should clearly feel much more passionate.
Actor Eloise Snape is accomplished in her portrayal of Mia, with a knack for naturalist performance that helps a great deal, to make things believable. Kieran Clancy-Lowe is less convincing as Millennial corporate animal Parker, oddly innocent in his portrayal of wilful ignorance of rape culture, in this post-MeToo era.
Production design by Cris Baldwin is rendered in the most literal manner, featuring an oversized television screen that stays on stage for the entirety, after being used only for several commencing seconds of the show. Lights by Aron Murray and sound by Johnny Yang, offer effective assistance to scene transitions, that provide a sense of tautness to the production’s overall pace. At just over an hour, Tongue Tied does not overstay its welcome, and when it concludes, little is left to linger.