Adrian’s ‘Friel’ sense of expectation

The cast of Translations.
The cast of Translations.

The latest Brian Friel play to take to the stage, Translations, opens at the Millennium Forum next week and director Adrian Dunbar, explains why a celebration of the author’s work is central to any celebration of local culture.

Adrian Dunbar is, it seems, an ever present in acclaimed Irish theatre and film.

He has been cast in many of the best productions to emanate from Ireland in the last twenty years, however not content with acting the Enniskillen native turned his hand to directing in 2004 and fresh from his acclaimed production of Frank McGuinness’s ‘Catharginians,’ Mr. Dunbar returns with another classic text in ‘Translations.’ Asked about the challenge of tackling such an established play he said simply: “We are having a good time in rehearsals, we have a really good cast and while there isn’t much time left we are pushing hard and it is going well. I am delighted to be part of what is a celebration of Friel’s work during City of Culture year.

“Working in Derry is very much like coming home for me. This is an exciting city to be working in. This play will open in Derry before going on the road, so that sense of expectation you get when working with a calibre of text like Friel’s is building. There certainly is a huge amount of responsibility to go with it.”

The director then admitted: “We’re beginning to feel that sense of expectation.”

That expectation and re-examination of Friel’s work has been growing as City of Culture fever mounts. Asked about which other cultural offerings he was looking forward to, the self confessed, “great lover” of traditional Irish music said: “I am really looking forward to the Fleadh. I remember going to the Fleadh in Buncrana in 1975 and 76. Even back then we wondered why it wasn’t held in Derry.

“Anyone who doesn’t believe this will be the biggest event of the year needs to wake up.”

“I think Friel’s work is still as relevant as Ibsen’s,” said Dunbar, “ not only that but I think it will continue to stay just as relevant.”

Asked where his latest production sits in relation to his already substantial body of work, Adrian ponders before saying: “I am proud of nearly all the work I’ve done and this is no different. The highlights would be in performing in places such as the Royal Court, London, the National Theatre, in the first episode of Cracker and of course the Irish productions such as, The General, The Crying Game and My Left Foot. As was having written the film ‘Hear My Songn’ that gives me a lot of pride too. I’ve been lucky in my career I think.” When pushed, the affable and modest thesbian, admits this: “Might be due in a little way to how I select my parts but I can’t say it’s all been by design.”

Looking at future challenges, Adrian said: “I am involved in a few film projects which are at the early stage.”

One of those is a biopic of James Connolly. “That is a subject close to my heart. While we are still at the scripting stage, I think the quality of the work is so good.” However the director quickly refocuses on the task in hand: “This play, Translations, is in itself a triumph. It has been 33 years since it first opened right here in Derry and we are here to celebrate again it for the triumph that it is.”

Tickets for Translations are available now from or 7126 4455.