Damaged Language

Richard Nelson
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This collection includes four radio plays. LANGUAGES SPOKEN HERE: A displaced American translator, Michael Milick, meets a Polish writer exiled in London to discuss translating one of his novels into English, but all is not as it appears. EATING WORDS: Two very different old friends, one a British novelist, the other an American novelist, meet for an uninhibited lunch where they bare the raw emotional content behind their latest publications. ADVICE TO EASTERN EUROPE: A comedy set at that epicenter of misunderstandings in 1990, just a year after the Berlin Wall was opened up and as its slow demolition was underway, and a year after the “Velvet Revolution” in Czechoslovakia. THE AMERICAN WIFE: To the Englishman Harry, Thursday may be a stupid day to have a holiday, but for his wife, Anne, in her eighth month of pregnancy and third year in London, a Thanksgiving dinner is a slightly desperate way to bring America to England. After three years she wants to go home.

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Press Quotes


Giles Cooper Award winner

“A morally ambiguous comedy … an American in London thinks he’s translating a novel by a penniless Polish émigré, only to find, after befriending and patronizing him, that the Pole has ditched his benefactor for another hack … True and funny as well.” —Paul Ferris, The Observer

“A neat, beautifully written, serious comedy about translation, exile and betrayal — one of the very best on Radio 3 last year.” —Nigel Andrews, The Listener

“A rare sort of treat … a very funny play, delicate in its touches, but sharp as a needle.” —Gillian Reynolds, The Daily Telegraph


Giles Cooper Award winner

“Totally enthralling … Richard Nelson is God’s gift (or at least America’s) to English radio drama.” —Nigel Andrews, The Listener

“A thoroughly absorbing account of two writers on a drunken tour of London.” —Plays and Players


“A masterly short play — a post-Cold War romance that is witty [and] technically bold — examines how one woman’s Utopia may be another person’s capitalist nightmare.” —Quentin Curtis, The Independent on Sunday


“A reminder that Nelson is the sharpest observer around of the gulf separating Britain and America.” —Michael Billington, The Guardian

About the Author


  • Richard Nelson

    Richard Nelson's plays include the four-play series, THE APPLE FAMILY (THAT HOPEY CHANGEY THING, SWEET AND SAD, SORRY, REGULAR SINGING (Nominated for Outstanding Play in Drama Desk Awards 2014; Public Theater, 2010 – 2013), NIKOLAI AND THE OTHERS (Lincoln Center Theater, 2013), FAREWELL TO THE THEATRE (Hampstead Theatre, 2012), HOW SHAKESPEARE WON THE WEST, (Huntington Theater, 2008), CONVERSATIONS AT TUSCULUM (Public Theater, 2008), FRANK'S HOME (Goodman Chicago, Playwrights Horizons, 2007), RODNEY'S WIFE (Playwrights Horizons, 2004), WHERE I COME FROM (National Theatre Connections), MADAME MELVILLE (which ran in the West End starring Macaulay Culkin and Irene Jacob and opened in May 2001 Off-Broadway); GOODNIGHT CHILDREN EVERYWHERE (winner of Olivier Award for Best New Play, 2000), KENNETH'S FIRST PLAY (with Colin Chambers, RSC), THE GENERAL FROM AMERICA (at the RSC and the Lucille Lortel Theatre, New York), NEW ENGLAND (RSC and Manhattan Theater Club), MISHA'S PARTY (with Alexander Gelman, RSC and Williamstown Theater Festival), TWO SHAKESPEAREAN ACTORS (Tony nomination for Best Play, RSC and Broadway), COLUMBUS AND THE DISCOVERY OF JAPAN (RSC Barbican), SOME AMERICANS ABROAD (Olivier nomination, Best Comedy; RSC, Lincoln Center and Broadway), LEFT, BETWEEN EAST AND WEST (Hampstead), PRINCIPIA SCRIPTORAE (winner of Time Out Award, RSC and Manhattan Theater Club), THE RETURN OF PINOCCHIO, AN AMERICAN COMEDY, BAL, CONJURING AN EVENT, RIP VAN WINKLE, JUNGLE COUP, THE KILLING OF YABLONSKI, THE VIENNA NOTES (Obie Award). His musicals include JAMES JOYCE'S THE DEAD (starring Christopher Walken and Blair Brown; Playwrights Horizons, Belasco Theatre, Broadway, Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, Kennedy Center, Washington; for which he received a Tony Award in 2000 for Best Musical Book), CHESS (the book for the Broadway musical), PARADISE FOUND (dir: Harold Prince and Susan Strohman), MY LIFE WITH ALBERTINE (with Ricky Ian Gordon; Playwrights Horizons), UNFINISHED PIECE FOR A PLAYER PIANO (with Peter Golub). His translations and adaptations include TYNAN starring Corin Redgrave (with Colin Chambers, RSC and West End), LOLITA with Brian Cox (National), Molnar's THE GUARDSMAN (Kennedy Center), Carriere's THE CONTROVERSY (Public Theater), Fo's ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST (Broadway), Strindberg's THE FATHER with Frank Langella (Broadway) and MISS JULIE (Yale Rep), Beaumarchais' THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO (the Guthrie and Broadway); Molière's DON JUAN, Ibsen's WILD DUCK and ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE, Pirandello's ENRICO IV, Goldoni's IL CAMPIELLO, Erdmann's THE SUICIDE. With the esteemed translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, he was co-translated Chekhov's THE CHERRY ORCHARD, Gogol's THE INSPECTOR, Turgenev's A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY and Bulgakov's DON QUIXOTE. Films: Hyde Park on Hudson, staring Bill Murray and Laura Linney (Dir: Roger Michell), Ethan Frome, starring Liam Neeson (Dir: John Madden); Sensibility and Sense, staring Elaine Stritch and Jean Simmons (Dir: David Jones). Television: The End of a Sentence with Edward Herrmann (Dir: David Jones). Radio Plays include: HYDE PARK ON HUDSON, LANGUAGES SPOKEN HERE (Giles Cooper Award), EATING WORDS (Giles Cooper Award), ADVICE TO EASTERN EUROPE, AN AMERICAN WIFE (all BBC).

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 3/18/2019
Pages 186
ISBN 9780881458213