DANCING AT LUGHNASA

23rd - 25th March, 2017

Writer

Brian Friel

Director

Lois Harbinson

Producer

Peter Goater

Street Theatre - Much Ado About Nothing

This wonderful and haunting play is widely regarded as the late Brian Friel's masterpiece. First performed at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in 1990, it won the 1991 Olivier Award for Best Play. It was also made into a film starring Meryl Streep in 1998.  

 

It's based on Friel's memories of growing up in Ireland in the 1930s, and is a magical piece of theatre - singular, poignant, funny, thought-provoking, exuberantly made in places and intertwined with the dance music of the '30s.

 

A play of laughter and tears, and an unmissable piece of theatre.

The Plot

This is the story of the five unmarried Mundy sisters, who eke out their lives outside the small fictional Irish village of Ballybeg (which means 'small town'). It is August, the time of the Festival of Lughnasa, a traditional pagan harvest which prompts much drunkenness and dancing and blurs the lines between the pagan and the Christian.  While the community around them takes part in the festivities, the Mundys remain aloof, mainly due to the disapproval of Kate, the eldest sister and local school teacher, whose wage is the family's only source of steady income, but also because - to the fiercely strict Catholic society in which they live - they are already tainted.  Christina, the youngest sister, has an illegitimate son, Michael; Rose is considered 'simple' and is having an affair with a married man; and brother Jack is a broken man. 

The action of the play is told through the memory of the adult Michael as he remembers the five women who raised him - his mother and her four older sisters.  He is only 7 in 1936, the year his Uncle Jack, a priest, returns after serving 25 years as a missionary in a Ugandan leper colony and with some strange ideas in his head. For the young boy, two disturbing things occur that summer: the family acquires its first radio, a Marconi, which - through its music - transforms them from correct Catholic women to shrieking, stomping banshees in their own kitchen, and Michael meets his father for the first time - Gerry Evans, a charming drifter who strolls down the lane and sweeps his mother away in an elegant dance across the fields.  From these small events spring the cracks that destroy the foundations of the family and change their lives forever. 

- Lois Harbinson, director

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