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What's lost when language is damaged?

Arts and EntertainmentWhat's lost when language is damaged?

He says that we are shaped not by the facts of history, but by our imagination. Hugh, the thirsty scholar, runs one of Ireland's illegal hedge-schools, teaching a rustic assembly of adults out of his dilapidated shanty. The Friel Project is a season of three works at the Irish Repertory Theater. The revival directed by Doug Hughes is a modest yet exquisite one and it makes a rigorous case for Brian Friel as an interpreter of Irish national identity. In the fictional small town of Ballybeg, a sweet, putrid smell rising from the potato fields forebodes famine and an influx of redcoats threatens to taint the local heritage. British soldiers are mapping the countryside and anglicizing Irish place-names because of a 1798 rebellion that led to union with Britain. Owen is one of Hugh's two sons and has become a champion for the "King's good English" more so than Yolland. The actors help the young men understand the consequences of what they are doing by being curious. Yolland is the one who hesitates, though not on moral grounds, as he is a hapless son of empire and he feels like an outsider, growing sweet on the sound of Irish vowels and even sweeter on Maire. Their giddy, headlong infatuation is fueled by mutual incomprehension, before a sharp turn that could potentially be tragic.

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