The Language Archive opens to the dysfunctional marriage of George and Mary. The set is adorned with boxes of papers, books, and a backdrop adorned with a collage of words from an unknown language.

George (Jeffrey Bracco), is a linguist with a particular love for Esperanto. And, though well-versed in many languages, he still struggles for the right words to express his love for his wife, Mary, played by Lisa Mallette. Mary is a nearly broken woman, who leaves poetic notes around the house for George in a last ditch effort to spur some return expression of his love.

But it’s no use: George is too involved in his work at the Language Archive recording the last two speakers of an ancient language called Elloway. Unfortunately for him and his assistant, Emma (Kendall Callaghan), those sole speakers are married couple Reston and Alta (Ben Ortega and Deb Anderson), who are entrenched in their own hilarious bickering. Much to George’s dismay, those arguments take place only in English, or what the couple call “the language of hate.” Soon, Mary appears to tell George she is leaving him. Meanwhile, lab assistant Emma is madly in love with George.

That’s the set-up, which, if a bit forced, is certainly workable. Unfortunately, from there the storyline isn’t content to simply spin out the implications of the opening, but instead takes wild turns as the unrequited love between George for Mary, and Emma for George, leads the characters toward overwrought expressions of how they feel. Emma even takes Esperanto classes with the hopes of reaching George, only to fail on the advice of her teacher, played wonderfully by Anderson, doubling up on roles. In the end it comes down to Reston and Alta to bring out what’s in the hearts of George and Emma, even if it’s not what either of them expect.

The play is ultimately about fear, language and its interpretations and regret for the things said and not said. The small cast works to the play’s advantage, particularly for comedic effect. The acting of the entire cast is superb; the dialogue is fast-paced, expressive and able to make some of the play’s lofty ideas more digestible.

But The Language Archive is structurally a mess. Scenes switch without any transition or background, characters suddenly break into monologues, dream sequences occur without warning. And though this lack of order may be purposeful, it only serves to illuminate the flaws of the play. Playwright Julia Cho seems to forgo structure for the sake of ideas—when those ideas would have been more thoroughly expressed with a living story and three-dimensional characters to prop it up. That isn’t to say The Language Archive isn’t interesting. It is a thoughtful, and sometimes hilarious look at language and human interaction. But overall, it’s just not a very good play. However, the blunt and witty performances by Ortega and Anderson keep the production tethered.