English tells the stories of four adult classmates learning English as a foreign language in Iran. As they try to perfect their accents, pronunciation and vocabulary they also realise that there is so much more to life than language can ever explain.

Sanaz Toossi’s writing is not only comical, but thought provoking and eye opening too. It asks us questions, not only of ourselves, but of those around us. How much of our identity do we show through our words? How much do we use our words to hide how we really feel? And should we change ourselves to be more acceptable to others or should we really be educating them to accept something different?

Nadia Albina plays Marjan, the English teacher guiding her pupils through this strange new language. Sara Hazemi (Goli), Lanna Joffrey (Roya), Serena Manteghi (Elham) and Nojan Khazai (Omid), are the students. It’s a small cast of five, each well cast and each strengthening the others performances.

Diyan Zora’s direction is uncomplicated and powerful. With Anisha Fields set and costume design and Elliot Griggs lighting complementing the piece throughout. We are for this moment transported to the classroom.

It’s a truly inspiring piece, highlighting the idiosyncrasies of the English language alongside the poetic beauty of Farsi. We learn how language can be our barrier as well as our freedom and how so many things can be lost in translation.

It’s a poignant, yet funny and heart-breaking piece.

In the room we think in English, we laugh in English, but most importantly you need to see English!

This show was reviewed on the 15th May 2024 at The RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon where it runs until the 1st June 2024 before transferring to the Kiln Theatre, London from the 5th - 29th June 2024.

For tickets at The RSC visit: About the Play | English | Royal Shakespeare Company (rsc.org.uk)

Review written by Rachel Martin


Photo credit: Richard Davenport

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