Review: 'Translations' explores language, communication

The Newtonite

by Maddie Griswold

The up-close and personal play “Translations” by Brian Friel, directed by English teacher Tim Finnegan, illustrates the frustrations due to the language barrier experienced by citizens of a humble farming town in Baile Beag, Ireland.

The show went up Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the little theatre, and will go up at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. tomorrow.

The lights illuminate a two-floor set scattered with hay, rugged furniture and old books. Truly completing the authentic barn scene, the distinct smell of hay wafts through the air.
Sarah, played by sophomore Nellie Rogers, slumps on a stool as brother Manus, played by sophomore Nico Krauss, coaxes her into saying her name. Slowly she stammers it out, with encouragement from Manus.

The act continues as others burst into the run-down Hedge school, each with their own trifles to share with the group.

Sisters Doalty and Bridget, played by junior Emily Clott and sophomore Ashley Campbell, respectively, inject a certain vivacity into the scene when they traipse in, complete with Clott’s eye-rolls and spot-on wisecracks and Campbell’s snide comments.

Maire, played by sophomore Natalie Tereshchenko, sets a more grave tone when she insinuates the prospect of going to America to Manus and Sarah. “The old language is a barrier to modern progress,” she expresses in her thick Irish accent, highlighting a main focus of the play: how people communicate with one another.

Mute Sarah embodies a strength of showing superb emotion while on the sidelines, remaining physically silent but emotionally present throughout the act. She conveys disbelief along with the others as Owen, played by freshman Nadav Konforty, returns from Dublin, accompanied by two English soldiers.

Lieutenant Yolland and Captain Lancey, played by juniors Simon Wolfe and Hiroki Shibuya, respectively, have the intention of carrying out the King’s plan for creation of an anglicised map of Ireland. Yolland goes about this with the help of Owen, who struggles with the moral burden of changing names of places he grew up in.

Owen acts as a go-between for the two parties, his own family and the Irish, hence the title “Translations.” Yolland and Maire grow closer and soon develop a relationship that leads up to the peak of the night, a kiss in the moonlight that closes act one. The tasteful music and lighting choices combined created a truly magical moment.

Tensions arise as the second act progresses, as both Manus, angered by Maire’s newly found infatuation, and Yolland depart Baile Beag. To the village’s horror, Captain Lancey threatens eviction and the shooting of all livestock if Yolland is not found.

The play ends ambiguously, with an unsure conclusion as a resistance rises against the English.

“Translations” vocalizes the struggles between these two nations during this turbulent time, in both charming and authentic sounding Irish accents that are sure to please.