Translations, National Theatre - ★★★★★ - Until December 18, 2019


Brian Friel's play may be even more relevant now than when it was written. The clash of cultures and the response of different generations to that reality rings true to so many contemporary issues. The historical events of the Ordnance Survey which undertook a mapping of Ireland from 1824 and the development of the National School system to replace the informal, community hedge-schools are the background for the play. In the names of order, coherence and modernity, Irish culture and language are threatened by the English imperial vision. Hedge-school teacher, Hugh and his compatriot, Jimmy represent the old world under threat and while his elder son, Manus, sympathises with their dreams and hopes to continue in their footsteps, younger son, Owen is open to translating the Ireland of myth and muddle into the new reality. But much can, and will, be lost in translation. This is Friel at his best with a compelling story and well-drawn characters. The entire cast is strong, but Ciarán Hinds stands out as Hugh as do Seamus O'Hara and Fra Fee as his two sons. Dermot Crowley does a wonderful comic turn as Jimmy. Jack Bardoe as the romantic young English Lieutenant and Liadán Dunlea as Sarah aspiring to another life are both excellent. Ian Rickson's direction makes the time fly and Rae Smith's set is wonderfully evocative. This is a beautiful production of a timely and transcendent work.

Reviewed by J.C.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until December 18, 2019
Various show times available. See website below.
Olivier Theatre, National Theatre
Nearest tube: Waterloo
https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/translations

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