TRANSLATIONS - National Theatre

The dark tale about the early english colonialism, is set on a piece of misty Ireland. The fog surrounding the land cuts it off and makes the appearance from the characters from off stage, quite mystical. The square hedge school, which symbolizes the shelter for the villagers, is a square within the round piece of land. The few props are very effective - but it is the strong soundscape and the lighting design, which creates this intense atmosphere. During the second half, lights on the irish ground appear and even if they are romantic at one point, they soon seem to look like the land is set on fire. And it might be - heated up by the boiling anger on both sides. Even though the second part feels a bit less coherent, it is gripping the audience attention until the last minute. This is due to the complex and well portrayed characters. Especially Colin Morgan’s “Owen” and Adetomiwa Edun’s “George” drive the play with their energy. The two unlike characters are brought together by their work, but soon start to realize that a simple gesture like changing the language, can destroy cultural identity. George, the english soldier, falls in love with the land and is eager to learn the irish language. He soon has to realize, that even if he would speak gaelic and build a home here, the villagers still meet him with distrust. Owen, who had a home and neglected it eagerly, finds himself again and finally stands up against the colonial power. First, it is only about being called by his real name, instead of “Roland” and later about covering up for his brother, whose life was ruined by the arrival of the English.

Everything turns bitter in the end. Especially, seeing how the soldiers turn Owens’ and Georges’ work of creating a map into their tool, is heartbreaking. Being left in the dark how the fight will end exactly, the audience is released with a poetic recitation by Owen’s father.

Now it is open for us to discuss:

Do we lose our identity when we give up our language?

How do names and their history define us?

Design: Rae Smith

Lighting Designer: Neil Austin

Sound Designer: Ian Dickinson

Music: Stephen Warbeck

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