The Language Archive – Play Review


“What is death to a language.  There are 6900 languages in the world,  Every two weeks, a language dies.  This statistic moves me more than any other.  It is death of imagination”.  This heartfelt dialog comes from in Julia Cho’s play, directed by Virginia Drake, “The Language Archive”, currenty running at Citiy Lights Theater www.cltc.org in San Jose.  George (Jeffrey Bracco) is a linguist and he documents and catalogs rare languages, their idioms expressions, before the language fades away, but he is at total loss for words, when it comes to speaking the language of the heart.  Though he is troubled by his wife’s sadness and though he uses a lot of words, George can’t talk about feelings.  George’s wife, Mary (fabulous Lisa Mallette) wears her heart on her sleeve and is looking for some passion and emotion, a spark, any spark.

Language archiveGeorge’s assistant, Emma (Kendall Callaghan) is deeply in love with George, so much so, that she is willing to sacrifice her own love for the sake of George’s happiness, and get him back together with his estranged wife.  George and Emma are recording last known speakers of Elloway, Resten (Ben Ortega) and his spunky wife Alta (Deb Anderson),  However, Alta and Resten refuse to speak in Elloway, since they are fighting and we are informed, English is a better language to express anger.  While George is deadly serious about preserving dying languages, Mary is preoccupied with unexpressed emotions.  Alta and Resten on the other hand, don’t seem to be interested in preserving the language or expressing love, but they like to talk.

Are there lessons in Alta and Resten’s relationship?  What turn will George and Mary’s relationship take?  Will Emma express her feelings to George?  But most importantly, will George, the master of words, brimming with ideas and brilliant in mind, learn to verbalize what is in his heart and express his feelings?  Can one learn to speak the language of the heart?  What is your experience with words; words like a starter of a loaf of bread, that give sustenance and give rise to more nourishing stuff or words as ornamental expression of ideas?  See for yourself and you be the judge of how well you speak the language of the heart.  Audience also gets an opportunity to learn a lesson in speaking the language of love, as they repeat after George, “Mi estas amita”, “I have been loved”.

“The Language Archive will be running at City Lights in San Jose, till June 29, 2014.  For tickets go to www.cltc.org.

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