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Loft in Translation

Translations. Photo by Richard Smith Photography.

Translations by Brian Friel at The Loft Theatre, Victoria Colonade, Leamington Spa from Wednesday 21 February to Saturday 2 March. Further details below.


The Loft Theatre Company’s latest offering is Brian Friel’s powerful classic, Translations, where one small community acts as a microcosm of the Anglo-Irish culture clash. The production, directed by Tom O’Connor, runs from Wednesday 21 February to Saturday 2 March.

What happens when you rob a community of their means of communication? Owen, the prodigal son, returns from Dublin back to rural Donegal and his Irish-speaking community. He brings with him two British army officers, who intend to create a map of the area, replacing the Gaelic place names with English. A hedge-school, where classes are conducted in Irish, is also to be replaced by a national education system in which English is the official language. It is an administrative act with radical consequences.

Hedge schools were secret, illegal schools - by necessity small and informal - providing a basic education to non-conformists (Catholics and Presbyterians). Under the laws of the 18th and 19th century, only Anglican schools were allowed in Ireland.

This modern masterpiece, set in 1833 in the fictional village of Baile Beag/Ballybeg, is a powerful account of nationhood, which sees the turbulent relationship between England and Ireland play out in one quiet community. Friel brilliantly explores the idea that communication is not about language. It is about understanding what makes us different from each other.

Commenting on the production, Director, Tom O’Connor, said, “In the tight community of Baile Beag the full effects of change create a set of dynamics which cause life never to be the same. Laughter, love and tears along the way, in a play where not a single word is wasted, nor a single character without substance. Please come along to see it, an experience you will not regret.”

A modern masterpiece set in the mid 19th century. Photo by Richard Smith Photography.

What people are saying:

“What strikes one is Friel’s ability to find complex meanings in a simple story and to capture Ireland, in 1833, at a moment of historical transition… Friel’s masterly play is steeped in irony and itself beautifully written” Michael Billington, The Guardian.

“the play…confronts soaring questions about the nature of language — how it connects people to their homes…and what happens when a native tongue is erased.” Naveen Kumar, New York Times.

“a timeless study of change and adaptation” Helen Meany, The Guardian.

Translations runs at the Loft Theatre nightly from Wednesday 21 February to Saturday 2 March, except for Monday 26 February. Performances begin at 7.30pm, apart from Sunday 25 February, when the show starts at 5pm.

Tickets can be booked at any time online at, by emailing, or by calling 01926 830 680 (answer phone service).

Free tickets for 16-25-year-olds can only be booked in person (with proof of age) at the Loft Theatre Box Office, which is open 6.45pm to 8.30pm on performance nights and the Monday and Tuesday preceding a run. 

This amateur production of Translations is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd. on behalf of Samuel French Ltd.


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