A bearded man in a white lab coat sits in the foreground, his legs splayed out before him. Behind him is a woman in a dress and a raincoat. They are in an office with high metal filing cabinets surrounding them.
Sean William Kelly (foreground) and Erin O'Brien in The Language Archive at AstonRep Credit: Paul Goyette

Romantic comedies depend on miscommunication. It’s why we love them. It’s comforting to see that everyone stumbles over their words. Our greatest tool for self-expression often mutates into its most frustrating obstruction. AstonRep Theatre Company’s The Language Archive, a comic-drama written by Julia Cho and directed by Dana Anderson, plays on this ironic tension through a linguist who can’t fathom how to express love. 

George (Sean William Kelly) never says the right thing. He devotes his entire life to language but bottles up his words when confronted by emotion. His linguistic impasse stirs up major issues in his marriage to Mary (Erin O’Brien), who communicates her sadness by hiding notes for George. After her futile appeal to revive their marriage, Mary leaves him. 

The Language Archive
Through 5/28: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM, The Edge Off Broadway, 1133 W. Catalpa, 73) 828-9129, astonrep.com, $20

Unfortunately for George, his work life is troubled by a verbal deadlock similar to his marriage. He and his assistant Emma (Aja Alcazar), who secretly loves George, hope to preserve a language nearing extinction. The linguists previously documented small clips of the language but now have a chance to record a conversation with Alta (Génesis Sánchez) and Resten (Jorge Salas). But this couple is too embroiled in petty conflict to speak their language, so they defer to English—or as they call it, the language of anger.
The Language Archive delivers a dynamic, touching chronicle that braids together linguistics and love, despite its contrived premise. AstonRep’s final production is packed with thrilling performances, especially from Sánchez and Salas, and though it’s not a traditional rom-com, it’s just as heart-stirring.