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  Play Details

The Language Archive

Round House Theatre - Silver Spring
8641 Colesville Road Silver Spring

Winner of the 2010 Susan Blackburn Prize. George is a brilliant linguist, consumed with preserving and documenting dying languages. But at home, he cannot find the words that will preserve his disintegrating marriage. His archival assistant is mute with adoration for him; and his newest subjects, an elderly couple who are the last speakers of an obscure language, refuse to utter a word to one another. A magically inventive comedy, The Language Archive asks whether love is a universal language or, like Esperanto, just a well-intentioned dream.

Presented by Forum Theatre

Thru - Mar 10, 2012



Price: $25

Show Type: Drama

Running Time: 2 hours; 35 mins with 1 intermission

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  Review Round-Up

DCTheatreScene - Recommended

The Language Archive is an elegant, graceful confection of a play, whose startling observations and sometimes loopy plot developments mask the tensile strength of playwright Julia Cho’s theme: regardless of the scope and grandeur of language, and of your command of it, you can say no more than what is in your heart.
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Tim Treanor


Washington Post - Somewhat Recommended

"...The dramatist’s solution is having George talk directly to us. Yet in Burgess’s all-too-delicate treatment, direct address is not enough to draw us urgently into George’s story. Nor is it made sufficiently apparent why Atkinson’s sensitive and vivacious Emma would find this deeply businesslike and taciturn scientist so much to her liking — especially when George’s coldness has driven Mary to spontaneous storms of tears."
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Peter Marks


WeLoveDC - Somewhat Recommended

"... Director Jessica Burgess brings the show to life with the proper balance between light and serious but the show suffers a bit of what I call “Return of the King” syndrome, where the show feels like it has too many “endings”. I feel like a good 20 minutes could be chopped from the script including an oddly placed epilogue at the end of the curtain call. The uneven flow muddles the overall message of the show."
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Patrick Pho


City Paper - Recommended

"... You see where this is going. George and Emma, language experts who can’t communicate with their own romantic partners, must help mend the Ellowans’ marriage, otherwise their research cannot move forward. The show follows George, Mary, and Emma in episodic fashion, and it does drag sometimes. Mary’s run-in with a suicidal baker is rather maudlin, while Emma’s language lessons with Rambow, playing a German lesbian Esperanto teacher, approach hysterics. Do the performances and situational comedy add up to play that’s worthwhile? Yes, yah, oui, and kutime. That last word is Esperanto. It loosely translates to “just about.”"
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Rebecca J. Ritzel


MD Theatre Guide - Highly Recommended

"... Directed by Jessica Burgess, the play is a conversation with the audience – a visit to relationships and language that are thriving and those that are dying. It’s an intimate experience that occasionally breaks the fourth wall to immerse the audience in the necessary words of communication."
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Amanda Gunther



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