Language as refuge or weapon is the central question behind Brian Friel’s celebrated play.

Slow burning tensions, shimmering between adherents of either, are fanned by ancient animosities: English and Irish, ancient and modern, military and civilian, men and women.

Does language enable a literal or mythical past or is it required for communication at all, an idea demonstrated by Nettie Sheridan’s startlingly dumb Sarah. Maire is irritated by Latin when all she really wants is American.
Jimmy Jack grimly accepts that Irish place names are a recipe for getting lost.

The Brighton Little Theatre set about the story with a straw strewn stage, folksy music by Midas, and performances that sing.

Steven Adams was touching as the crippled Manus, raw with rejection by Kitty Fox Davis’ Maire who prefers sensitive English officer, Nik Balfe.

Their second act seduction by place names, each speaking a language foreign to the other, was breathtaking.

Nick Roche had the lions’ share of Friel’s linguistic ingenuity, spouting a devilish mix of Latin and Irish vernacular whilst Mike Skinner as Hugh seems to uphold the opulence of the Gaelic language as compensation for the loss of that culture.

Wonderfully acted, with brilliant direction by Tess Gill.

Four Stars