Brian Friel’s vision of Irish culture has lost none of its brilliance

Translations at Abbey Theatre, Dublin from June 13 to August 13, national tour until September 3

Ruby Campbell as Bridget, Suzie Seweify as Sarah and Andy Doherty as Doalty in Translations. Photo by Johnny Frazer

Katy Hayes

Watching Brian Friel’s 1830s-set play about colonial map-making is like taking a long refreshing drink of theatre tonic. It has gained in power since its 1980 premiere and this Lyric and Abbey co-production serves it spectacularly well. Friel had supreme confidence in himself as an artist, and equal confidence in the idea of a national narrative. It is this vision that gives the play its brilliance: he sees Irish culture on a par with the great European founding civilisations. There is no modesty here.