Universal Babble


shawn maggio & colleen macissac

I was utterly delighted that Lions Den Theatre’s Universal Babble: Two Plays By David Ives were the last plays that I saw as part of the 23rd Annual Atlantic Fringe Festival. What a joyful and satisfying end to a fantastic ten days of plays.

American playwright David Ives is a master of linguistic gymnastics and nowhere is this cunning feat on more brilliant and hilariously display than in his play The Universal Language where a shy man learns to overcome his stutter and find love by learning Unamunda, the invented language of a lousy con artist. Colleen MacIsaac plays Dawn, the smooth talking teacher who speaks Unamunda as though it were her first language. Shawn Maggio is absolutely adorable as the sweet, naive Don, whose slow grasp of this new language makes him shine, palpably from the heart. Director Rebecca Currie captures the musicality in Unamunda, which only adds to the sense of fun and the charm of the piece. MacIsaac and Maggio’s chemistry and their exuberance make this little play a magical little gem to watch unfold- one that makes the audience want to stand up and cheer at the end, “Flantastico! Bleeny! Zoopa mit noodle. Iago Polymorphous du.”

The second Ives’ play is Babels in Arms, which explores an ancient workers’ strike, the emergence of early linguistic differences and perhaps the earliest holy war, as two blue collar Mesopotamian construction workers are commissioned, or rather forced, to build the Tower of Babel, to meet God. Dan Bray and Ira Henderson channel a dream Vaudevillian comedy duo as Cannaphlit and Gorph, both beautifully absurd and wryly endearing at the same time. Colleen MacIsaac plays their incensed supervisor and Ashley Marie Pike makes a fun appearance as the High Priestess, with Shawn Maggio as her Eunuch, to further wreak havoc on the two slaves. The result is a short, sweet, rollicking good time directed with a great sense of silliness and sharp comic pacing by Matthew Downey.

Thanks to Lions Den Theatre for giving my heart exactly what it needed at the very end of a terrific Fringe Binge.

TWISI Rating:  4 of 5 stars

Universal Babble played at DANSpace as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival and has closed. 

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