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Tongues by Perfect Mayhem at the Tristan Bates Theatre

Published by: Carolin Kopplin on 15th Jan 2013 | View all blogs by Carolin Kopplin


Moral: Everything goes to shit. Reboot.

Perfect Mayhem was formed nine years ago and is dedicated to working with new or neglected North American playwrights. About a year ago, the company unearthed John Vanbrugh's amusing play The Provoked Wife at the Greenwich Playhouse, setting the action in the 1930s, which worked very well. This time they present a 30-minute play by a contemporary English author as part of "First:  A Season of Solo Performances" at the Tristan Bates Theatre.  

Kay, a war correspondent, makes an unscheduled stop during the Balkans conflict in Bosnia, in an area much like the Yorkshire Dales. As the lights go up, Kay is taking photos of an executed soldier although it makes her nauseous. In her monologue, addressed to the dead man, she confronts the cruel nature of war, journalism and the vagaries of map reading. She also explains the rules of  "Tongues" to him, a card game for children in which the loser keeps on playing until the bitter end. The absurdity of the situation and the humour of the text make this short one-hander a darkly comic play that also raises some important questions. 

Provence Maydew gives an intense performance as the not so hardened journalist who feels the need to connect and assist somebody, even if her attempts are in vain because the only other person around is dead. In this respect the play has an almost optimistic outlook on humanity. 

By Carolin Kopplin 

Until 16th January 2012,  7.30pm
Tristan Bates Theatre
The Actors Centre, 1a Tower St., London WC2H 9NP
Tel: 020 7240 6283



  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Thanks, Carolin. I'm interested in the commercial aspects of this type of production. How do you persuade an audience to separate themselves from their TV sets for 30 minutes of entertainment? Was it presented as dinner theatre, perhaps?
  • Carolin Kopplin
    by Carolin Kopplin 5 years ago
    There was another performance half an hour later so you could do a double-bill.
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