Park Square Theatre’s The Language Archive is about relationships. Relationships of a romantic nature but also the relationship you have with yourself.
We learn early on that George’s wife Mary is leaving him and while his job as a linguist is to know and study languages, he can’t find the right words to tell Mary he wants her to stay. Kurt Kwan and Sara Ochs play Mary and George, and since playwright Julia Cho has chosen to break the fourth wall, we’re able to hear each side of the story and feel a connection to both characters equally.
Now, before you go thinking that it’s going to be all serious and somewhat depressing, bear with me. You’re going to laugh your *ss off.
As a warning, Park Square’s website tells us “The Language Archive contains adult language. There are 7 variations of f*ck, 3 variations of sh*t, one use each of b*tch and *ss.”
Cue the fantastically hilarious Claudia Wilkens and Richard Ooms as Alta and Restin, the last speakers of the Elloway language. George wants to record them, but unfortunately they enter in the midst of a fight throwing out explicit terms such as the delightful “f*ck butt.”
But in English.
Why in English? Because “English is the language of anger,” of course. They remind me of Billy Crystal and Carol Kane as Miracle Max and Valerie from The Princess Bride. That should be enough to let you know that you will fall in love with them as I did.
Then there’s George’s assistant, Emma (Emily A Grodzik). Poor, sweet Emma who’s got it so bad for George, she’s even learning another language for him. Unfortunately, all George can do is mope about Mary leaving, and Emma finds herself lending more emotional support than anything.
As much as I laughed, The Language Archive got my hamster wheel spinning.
At one point Mary states, “I simply became too sad to stay so I left.” I was in Mary’s position once. And I, too, left. Too easily we stay in situations that make us unhappy because of how much we fear change. We can’t even conceive how much greener the grass really is on the other side because the wall is a little too high.
The Language Archive will make you think about what makes a life. What really matters? The beauty of this is that there is no right or wrong answer.
Some people do well in relationships. Others don’t.
Some people need the right job to find fulfillment. Others don’t.
The point is that it’s up to us to figure it out for ourselves and make it happen.
Watching the characters’ interactions also made me ponder the 5 Love Languages. Chris and I are both strong in Quality Time, but Physical Touch is stronger for him and Words of Affirmation is stronger for me. Because of this, we’ve tried to be more aware of how we interact with each other and put in the effort to use the other person’s language.
We talk from time to time about how this affects us since we’re not always speaking the same “language.” This theme rings true throughout the play when Mary wants to hear words George can’t say, and a sympathetic hug might say more than anything else in the entirety of the play. If you don’t know what your love language is, I encourage you to take the quiz.
Check out the trailer for The Language Archive below. You’ll love Joseph Stanley’s larger than life built in bookcase backed with various languages and a few bells and whistles to keep things interesting. Director Rick Shiomi (who just won the McKnight Foundation’s Distinguished Artist Award for 2015!) has handled this emotional show gracefully and the cast delivers the material beautifully. The show runs now through May 31 and you can purchase tickets online.