Home / Theatre Review (LA): The Language Archive by Julia Cho at South Coast Repertory

Theatre Review (LA): The Language Archive by Julia Cho at South Coast Repertory

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South Coast Repertory has long been recognized for the relationship they have with certain writers. The theatre sometimes catches them at the beginning of their careers; and the writers, for the most part, stay loyal to SCR and let them produce their later works, often before the premiere in New York. Recently a new play by Julio Cho, who has had several plays produced and nurtured at SCR, is getting its West Coast Premiere. Originally commissioned in New York by the prestigious Roundabout Theatre, The Language Archive is a play that examines the bridge that exits between people as they try to share their innermost feelings and thoughts.

George is a linguistic nerd who studies language but can’t seem to talk to either his wife or his infatuated assistant. His current project is to record the fast-disappearing language called Elloway, spoken by only two remaining people from the culture. Complications arise when the Elloway couple refuses to speak their native language, which is characterized as a language of love, and instead argue in English over their petty differences. Meanwhile his wife wants to talk but George can’t open his mouth and wonders why it is necessary. His assistant pines away and settles for not sharing her desire for George but rather buries herself in the work.

Ms. Cho cleverly and with great humor examines the misuses of language, of the failure to connect between people, man and woman, and different cultures. The play is a bit dry for my taste, but it is well directed by Mark Brokaw and the acting is quite good as is the SCR standard. Leo Marks plays George and manages to get some definition into his inarticulate character. His wacky wife is played by Betsy Brandt and the desperate assistant is Laura Heisler. The couple that speak Elloway are played by SCR veterans Tony Amendola and a very funny Linda Gehringer. The Language Archive played at South Coast Repertory through April 25th

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