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on 4 July 2017
This is an excellent play by an excellent playwright. It explores language and identity on many levels. It is at once tragic and comic. Although set in Ireland, the themes are universal. In my opinion it is a masterpiece - a brilliant play!
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on 18 July 2017
THIS PLAY WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. FRIEL IS AN AMAZING PLAYWRIGHT.
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on 8 June 2017
Very well done. Would love to see it on stage.
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on 21 May 2017
as described.
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on 21 January 2008
From the outset, this might seem like a play chiefly mourning the decline of Irish culture due to the English. If it was as simple and, frankly, boring as this then I wouldn't like it, let alone rate it 5 stars. For me though, this play isn't really 'about' this or anything else. Friel is notorious for refusing to tell people what the 'point' of his plays are and that is probably because with Translations he is not attempting to 'make a point' or argue one view, but to explore various issues without trying to give a definite 'answer'.

The way I see it the purpose of Translations is to present to the mind of the audience members ideas or views which they then can digest and reflect on. This includes issues in the philosophy of language, identity, morality and politics. People have got to realize that Friel is not saying "what the English did was wrong" or "a culture's original language is part of its identity" or "meaning can never be properly translated from one language to another" but to put these and their opposing views out there and create a point of reference for discussion. This ambiguous 'post-modernist' approach ensures the play is not a one-trick pony, it makes it re-readable and perfect for study.

Mistaking views being raised for reflection as Friel expressing personal views leads to a simplistic appreciation of this play which would understandably lead to a poor review. For those reviewers who feel there's not enough action I say this play is not a play of action. And for those reviewers who say the characters are stereotypes I say they obviously skipped the parts with Yolland in them (as well as the fact that in drama arhetypal characters can be used to great effect).

This is, quite simply, a great play.
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on 16 June 2001
Translations now firmly holds a place on A-level and University reading lists everywhere and rightly so. It's a beautiful play which focuses on the potential erosion of Irish Culture along with the eradication of the Gaelic Language and Irish place names, by British troops. However, you don't need to be clued-up on Irish politics to enjoy translations. The moving union between an Irish Speaking Country Girl and a British Solider proves that love only knows one language.
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I remember picking this play up, and wondering if it would be able to capture my interest, because I am a reluctant reader. There is, however, something about this work that makes you want to keep reading. All the characters are interesting, especially Hugh Mor O'Donnell, and you find yourself loving some and hating others.

I used to think that when you hated a character it was because they were not a good creation, but it is quite the opposite really. And Maire Chatach in Translations, has the same effect on me as Mr Skimpole in Bleak House, she evokes instant dislike. Her selfishness and the attachment she develops to the foreigner George Yolland are central to the Story, and help bring about the climax to the play. She abandons Manus, the crippled Irish teacher, for the stronger English soldier and there is perhaps an allusion here to the shedding of the Irish language in favour of English, by the Irish peasantry.

I read 'Making History' after reading this one and didn't like it half as much. The banter in the hedge school particulary that between Hugh and Doalty is extremely funny and provides an anti-dote to the depressing central theme of the play - Colonisation and the wilful destruction of the Irish Language and Culture.

If you read this and the first chapter of Ulysses together, you can see the effect of what takes place in Translations. In Friel's play, set notionally in 1815, the main language of Bally Beag was Gaelic, and it was the only language the Hedge School pupils other than Jimmy Jack Cassie, really understood. By 16th June 1904, the peasantry, represented by the milk woman, are unable to even recognise their own language.
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on 27 January 2006
Friel's "Translations" is a brilliant book which I had the fortune to study on my A Level syllabus. It works on many levels, and whilst its layers of symbolism can seem complex to begin with, by the end of the play Friel skilfully connects the loose ends together. This is a beautiful story of language and love, as well as the power of language to deceive. I would recommend this to any fan of Anglo-Irish Literature but also as a very good read.
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on 20 December 2015
While its author's intentions are beyond my knowing, I thought the play, considered objectively, dripped hatred of England. The author has every right to speak his mind, whatever that may be. My question is why any examining board should make it a prescribed text for A-Level English.
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on 29 March 2010
Moving, funny and multi-layered.

Amazing technique of creating an impression of two languages being spoken with the words of one language only. Amazing skill in conjuring up the dialogue of lovers, loaded with emotion, searching for common language where there is none. Or is there?... That place in the play I liked the best.

One star minus to myself for not understanding the ending: ok, Owen repents, but does it solve it all? What about Maire, the most resolute of all, which way she is about to go? Yolland, the sweetest of all - why does Friel kill him? Manus, the most honest, why must he escape? The prophesy in the end of the play by a drunk funny man living in the world of his dreams - is that the final truth???
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