Monday, March 28, 2016

The Language Archive - MediaRites's Theatre Diaspora - SE Portland

The Language of Love

This readers theatre production by Julia Cho and directed by Dmae Roberts is having its final performance at Milagro, 525 SE Start St., On Saturaday, April 2 at 2pm (Warning, itis only street parking, so plan your time accordingly.)  For more information, go to their site at You can also learn more about their company an overview I wrote on them by going to:

Communication, a key ingredient in language, is essential to understanding a person, a population and a heritage.  If a language of a culture dies, than so does an entire race of people.  It is happening all the time, especially in the more remote regions of our world.  That is part of the subject of Cho’s play but it also belies exposing deeper roots, a “deeper magic,” when it comes to Love.  Do we say what we mean, and mean what we say.  In Love, often not, for there are things…feelings that words cannot describe, or that there are simply no words for.  And so we come to Cho’s touching play.

George (Leo Lin) works with languages, trying to preserve what are considered the last remnants of cultures that may be dying out.  He may be a communication expert at this but is less successful when it comes to his home life and his wife, Mary (Tonya Jone Miller), who seems to be depressed and crying all the time.  She is may also be leaving odd notes that seem to make no sense.  She is unlike rigid George, who supports the adage, everything in its proper place and has no time for tears.  A match probably not made in Heaven.

But he does have a loyal assistant, Emma (Wynee Hu), who understands his drive, and is willing to comfort him and be his pal when needed.  May we also say that she is totally smitten by him.  But does he notice, of course not (so typical…he probably wouldn’t even ask for directions, either, if lost).  No hope, you say?  But wait, the home front may be breaking apart and some sunshine might filter through to those who suffer from unrequited love.

But first to work and then to…whatever.  They have an Eastern European couple, Alta (Sofia May-Cuxim) and Resten (Enrique Eduardo Andrade), in their tests, products of one of those dying languages, who are constantly arguing…but in English (!) which, of course, defeats the whole purpose of the experiment.  They explain, quite convincingly, that English is the language of strife, of war, and their language is for romance.  Wonderful concept and maybe even true.

To go further down these paths would be telling, so you just have to see it for yourself, to observe if a German instructor will put Emma on the road to happiness; whether an old man will inspire love again through baking; and will an odd couple be an inspiration for true love.  See a common theme in all of this?  After all, it is Spring and a time when heads and hearts should be full of Hope.

The play is a, not so simple, love story.  But it is fresh, and original, and gives one pause to ponder.  Roberts know when to allow laughs to reign or let gentle tears flow.  And she has chosen her cast very well.  Lin does wonderfully, portraying the mask of subtlety, betraying outwardly little emotion but inwardly, anguished and confused.  Miller is appropriately awash with emotion, searching for her true self.  Hu, always worth watching, nicely balances her feelings with her duties, straddling that thin line, careful not to fall over one way or the other.  Andrade is convincing in more than one role, giving each a special trait that resonates with the story.  And May-Cuxim is especially fine in her roles, enacting bombastic but allowing us to see, not only the humor, but the truth underneath.

It should be noted that Alex Haslett did well reading the stage directions and the musicians for the pre-shows, Gerardo Calderon and Gauri Rajbaidya (on the 2nd), adding a nice flavor for the evening.  I recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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