DANCING AT LUGHNASA
by Brian Friel.
Theatre by the Lake To 19 April 2014.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2pm.
Audio-described 12 Apr 2pm.
Captioned 19 Apr 2pm.
Post-Show Discussion 10 Apr.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.
TICKETS: 017687 74411.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 29 March.
Familiar Lakeside actors give an apt family feel to this bright revival.
This is the 1990 play whereby Five became the new Three. Brian Friel’s Mundy sisters, in 1936 Ballybeg (his plays’ persistent location) dance themselves into dramatic memory as sharply as the Prozorovs, Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters.
Friel’s title emphasises the element missing from the hard daily grind of these women in dull pinafores – only one has a ‘proper’ job outside, as a teacher – growing older together, alone.
Yet they’re both family and community, paralleling brother Jack’s description, as a Catholic priest gone native in Africa, of the polygamous society he admires.
In Ballybeg talk of this pagan place loses his sister her teaching job, while the coming of factory work dispossesses other sisters. A fox kills simple-minded young Rosie’s rooster, cutting off future supply of the eggs which are much of their foodstock.
Amid all this is the famous moment they burst into pagan celebration during the harvest feast of the god Lugh (the ‘g’ is silent, as in ‘Hugh’). Even that depends on technology, dying with the music from their unreliable wireless.
Among the detail of Mary Papadima’s Keswick revival – in an English substitute for the Mundy’s home, on the edge of a small urban community among the hills – is the way the joyous dance moves through the sisters till even the sternest can’t stop herself stepping-out as she works at the sink.
And it shows dance recurring more quietly, to hits of the thirties, an undercurrent of joy in harsh lives, just as the wild dance itself sees the distant black mountains transform in Andrew J Lindsay’s projections to dancing waves of sunlit crops.
The sisters’ lives in 1936 are put into retrospect by the reflections of Christina’s young son Michael as an adult present to comment on his childhood days. Roger Delves-Broughton gives him a sympathetic manner of recollection, often seeming on the edge of a dance, while Ben Ingles enters fully into the fantasist who fathered him.
But male memories and imaginings would be little without the five fine performances embodying the reality of these sisters in the last days of their lonely, living community.
Rose: Laura Darrall.
Michael: Roger Delves Broughton.
Gerry: Ben Ingles.
Maggie: Polly Lister.
Kate: Aislinn Mangan.
Chris: Isabella Marshall.
Father Jack: Jack Power.
Agnes: Fiona Putnam.
Director: Mary Papadima.
Designer/Costume: Martin Johns.
Lighting/Video: Andrew J Lindsay.
Sound: Maura Guthrie.
Choreographer: Heather Habens.
Dialect coach: Charmian Hoare.