Translations begins with the return of a prodigal son. Owen has left anglicized Dublin in 1833 to find his home, Donegal, unchanged: the place names are in Irish, and the lessons at school, still taught by his father, Hugh, are conducted in traditional Irish, too. But Owen has arrived with two soldiers in tow, sent to rewrite the town in English. As each character negotiates between tradition and transition, they must communicate across differences. The play’s colonial plot is animated by its thematic heart, pulsing with the many mysteries of language. Brian Friel’s acclaimed tale of transformation returns to the Olivier, after its sold-out run in 2018. —C.J.F.
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