Posts Tagged Virginia Drake
“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.
George’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.
In “The Smell of Kill”, Michele Lowe has given life to (pun intended) the “meaty” topic of unhappy marriages, where one spouse wishes the other to be dead or sometimes fantasizes killing the spouse. Director Virginia Drake has done a phenomenal job in alternating between comic relief and nervous tension, as three unhappy wives deny, discuss, and eventually unite in denigrating their husbands.
Nicki’s husband Jay has committed some legal hanky-panky and is likely to be indicted and to serve time. Nicki is bitter and edgy from the very beginning and tells the other wives, “Jay is not going to prison, because I am going to kill him first”. Debra’s husband is having an affair with another woman, though that does not stop him from flirting with his friends’ wives. Debra is in complete denial of her situation, at first. She constantly moralizes about appropriate role for good wife and a mother and looks down upon working women like Nicki. Debra says, “a good mother stays home for the first two years of a child’s life”. Molly is not quite so naïve, as she first comes across. She wants a child but is unlikely to get pregnant by her “asexual” husband. Molly has her own fun from having affairs with other men. Debra tells Molly, she should get a hobby and Molly says, “I got a hobby”.
It is the performance of the three women, Mandy Armes, Diahanna Davidson, and Morgan Allyne Voellger working together with impeccable timing that makes the play interesting. Husbands (played by Jimmy Allan, Frank Swaringen, and Max Tachis) are off stage during the entire play, and only participate through their meaningless comments and selfish commands, alternately demanding dessert, calling out little love messages or pelting golf balls in the kitchen. Needless to say it’s not just the wives who get annoyed and angry. Very quickly the audience joins the wives’ camp. The wives have had enough of these insensitive, selfish, flirtatious men who take little to no responsibility in the relationship. And then a situation arises where the wives are called upon to vote and decide, as Nicki puts it, whether or not they should play God and rescue their husbands from a fatal situation they willingly walked into. Will they? Won’t they?
Ron Gasparinetti has done a marvelous job in scenic design and Tyler Della and Ivette Deltoro has worked beautifully on the props. Immaculately clean kitchen, with skylights (windows towards God), and use of sharp, huge kitchen knife to tack the newspaper clipping of Jay’s antics on the kitchen’s broom closet, seems like a perfect setting. Amy Zsadanyi-Yale has done a fabulous work with the costumes, including the blah borrowed top, sexy lingerie, and blood soaked plaid shirt, that speak to the raucous, the risqué, and the gory aspect of the storyline.
Comedy plays are infrequent and often difficult to enact. So this is a rare chance to see a tragic/ comedy superbly executed with precision timing. The Smell of Kill is running at City Lights Theater in San Jose till February 23, 2014. For tickets, go to http://www.cltc.org.