A language lesson delivered with clarity, quality and power - The Leamington Observer

A language lesson delivered with clarity, quality and power

Leamington Editorial 23rd Feb, 2024   0

THE POWER of language, who controls it, and what it means for people struggling to find common ground forms the background for a production which is itself a masterclass in communication.

Rural Ireland and a quite inward-facing community find life disrupted by the arrival of a military operation to map the terrain and rename every feature within it to make it easier for English speakers.

There are obvious strains of cultural appropriation to be found. But if this play were only about the arrogant incomer trampling the traditions of a comparatively defenceless incumbent, it would be so much the weaker.

Add in questions over the future of education in the nation, a running debate on the classical history of the words we use and the importance of place names in defining where we are, and this is a piece which has a lot to say about words.




Crucially though we’re presented with some hefty language and identity concepts without the learning ever becoming too heavy in a production which fairly zips along.

The production benefits from a top-notch cast all delivering rounded, believable performances from first to last. The comedy, so abundant in the misunderstandings and stumbling conversations, is impeccably timed. And the drama, pathos and seriousness when it comes is handled with admirable tenderness.


Craig Shelton as the resident scholarly master is superb, a fine mixture of casual drunkenness and insightful commentary. Christopher Stanford impresses as the interpreter caught not just between languages but between cultures and progress itself.

And there is a gem of a performance from Leonie Slater as a young woman picking her path between the desire to defend her culture and the chance to escape that an unexpected love presents.

In truth the entire company shines under the tight, focussed direction of Tom O’Connor and against the soundtrack of fine live music.

This is a show which looks good, thanks to a beautifully detailed set, and draws us in to ideas and interpretations which will probably stay in the mind for some time.

Whatever the language – English, Irish, Greek or Latin – this fine production says it clearly and memorably, and deserves to be heard.

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