What do you do when you come home from a very normal day at work to suddenly realise that your tongue has vanished without a trace from your head?
An Teanga is a curious and amusing story of a subservient office clerk, Tomás S. Mac Gairbhith, who, after the mysterious disappearance of his tongue, is forced for the first time to engage with the Establishment in a vain attempt to find his missing tongue. It follows one mans impotent struggle against a system that would prefer to see him accept his inexplicable fate and brush the matter under the carpet. He turns to all the provincial pillars of society that hold themselves up as competent and capable guardians of human welfare, but, while they are extremely adept at maintaining their own image as caring, competent and erudite members of society, they fall short in their ability to provide any real clues as to where the tongue might be. With no real headway made by Tomás, despite quite an extensive search, he eventually gets swallowed into the social quagmire of indifference and finds himself in another institution. Here he finds, not his tongue, but his own personal heaven, where he finally gets heard.
In one sense An Teanga it is an absurd tragedy which deals with the absurd notion of someone physically losing his tongue, it is also a satire on authority’s attempt to bureaucratise language issues. In another sense, it is a metaphor for the Irish language and an account of the real frustrations of a society overshadowed by the predicted death of it’s native tongue.
An Teanga ignores the obvious questions of how someone’s tongue could vanish completely and hurries along to question where it could possibly have gone to. The reasons he lost his tongue are not important, but where and how to find it is dealt with and treated with the absolute gravity that one would give to losing any other personal item.
An Teanga is an adaptation of Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde’s short story of the same name, directed by the writer in his first directorial role.