5/7/2013 1:02 AM
Through the haunting lens of the early colonization of Ireland, Friel delves into the evolution and destruction of culture throughout history. As the British come to map out the village of Baile Beag in Ireland, the natives must contend with the growing influence of the foreign power and the imminent erasure of their culture. This play tells of the slow march of time that, though regretful, is unable to be stopped.
The fact the Irish characters only speak Gaelic, Greek, and Latin suggests that they are characters of a forgotten time, soon to be replaced. One British character, Yolland, falls in love with both the culture and a girl, Maire, from the village. While it can be seen as a trite love story, it is, in fact, a tragic instance of cultural confusion. She loves the idea of escape to a new future, while he loves the idea of the past. His obsession for a doomed time eventually costs him his life, when those who attempt to defend their land take violent action. However, this act eventually results in harsh punishment from the British and signals the true beginning of the end for Baile Beag.
Translations calls for a large cast, which would be appealing to centers of education. However, due to the sophisticated and subtle nature of the script it would be difficult to successfully produce without inadvertently insulting Irish history, overly sentimentalizing the storyline, or missing key themes of the play. This is a fine example of Irish drama and would be a brilliant addition to anyone studying the culture or its literature. Keep in mind that the setting is a conglomeration of a number of important events in Irish history so it is not entirely historically accurate.