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In its 10th anniversary season, Keegan’s been mixing up the set list, sprinkling greatest hits (remounts of The Hostage and Mojo Mickybo) in among the new tunes (premieres Alone It Stands and Last Days of the Killone Players). With Translations, Keegan’s reached back to its very first EP and brought back the original drummer (director Mark A. Rhea), and the result will have you fishing through your pockets for a Zippo. Back in 1997, Rhea’s staging of Brian Friel’s thoughtful, closely observed historical drama about a small Irish village—and the various subtleties of language that ultimately seal its fate—helped put Keegan on the map. George Lucas’ impressively detailed barnlike set is back, along with Daniel Lyons’ haughty British military officer and Stan Shulman as the village’s doddering, drunken, improbably well-read polyglot. Among the new faces, Peter Finnegan nails his performance as Yolland, the self-effacing British lieutenant tasked with remapping and renaming the Irish countryside. The part calls for an actor who can bring the funny without letting it undermine the character’s basic dignity. Finnegan wrings laughs out of Yolland’s awkward attempts to communicate with villagers who speak only Gaelic but keeps us right there with him as he comes to love, and despair for, the culture he has unwittingly set out to destroy. There’s a similar elegance to most of the other performances, helped along by Rhea’s gentle directorial hand. Rhea knows that Friel’s script is a thing of fragile balances—push too hard on any single element, and the evening could get preachy, right quick. So he trusts Friel’s overriding thematic obsessions to sort themselves out and lets his actors find the humanity of the thing. Thus the rivalry between brothers Manus (Colin Smith) and Owen (Jon Townson) informs the two actors’ deft performances without stealing the focus. The romance between Yolland and village woman Maire (Susan Marie Rhea) isn’t played for love-conquers-all shmoopiness; it feels grounded and specific. Only Kevin Adams’ florid turn as the village’s garrulous schoolteacher seems out of sync with the production’s understated approach, and as a result, some of the evening’s final moments feel strained and inauthentic. But then, that’s the character he’s playing—a proud man who uses his outsize personality and command of language as a bulwark against the knowledge that everything he knows is about to disappear from the world. Once Adams relaxes into the role a bit, that closing monologue should carry the shattering power it’s meant to.