I’ve seen lots of people fall asleep at the theater. It happens all the time. Sometimes, people eat a heavy meal before the show. Or they’re not use to staying up so late. Or it’s a 3+ hour Shakespearean marathon. Other times, the material is so weak that it can’t hold your attention. You sitting in a nice, cozy, dark theater. You’ve had a long day. What’s happening on stage isn’t very interesting, so you might as well take a little nap. It’s okay. Just don’t snore. That rude!
But it’s an entirely different story if you fall into such a deep slumber during the first act that you actually sleep through the intermission and continue to doze through the second act. That’s when you’ve got a real problem on your hands.
Notice all the empty seats?
Such is the case with the Roundabout’s production of The Language Archive currently in previews. The second act was actually pretty interesting. It had some nice, dreamy fragments that worked and a satisfactory conclusion. But by then, it didn’t matter. It was too damn late. It’s like a car that was driven over a cliff and on the way to the bottom of the ravine, the driver decides she’d like to turn around.
The first act was a lumbering grind. I mostly blame the playwright, Julia Cho. The dialogue is stilted and stiff. It didn’t sound like people talking to one another. It sounded like actors reciting pre-rehearsed lines. There were a lot of false pauses. And it wasn’t the fault of the poor actors.
At the same theater last season I saw Dana Ivey in The Glass Menagerie and it was the polar opposite of this. The dialogue flowed smoothly. It sounded like spontaneous, natural conversation.
And beat me over the head with a big metaphor bat. He studies languages but he can’t talk to his wife. I get it. His lab assistant can’t confess her feelings for him because she has a problem communicating. Yet, she works in a language lab. Oh, the irony! The old bickering couple have a secret language that can only be used when they’re able to communicate with each other. I get it. Okay?
This thing is directed by Mark Brokaw, who knows his shit. Sometimes, the material just doesn’t come together.
Favorite spam email subject line of the week:
Naked pictures of Gwyneth Paltrow will give you iron, man.