Bardic Theatre are on tour in the lead-up to summer with Brian Friel’s 1990 play about five sisters in rural western Ireland, stopping in at the Burnavon, Cookstown on Saturday 22nd March.
Dancing at Lughnasa, a sweetly humorous and touching dramedy, is directed by Sean Faloon. It is 1936 in the fictional town of Ballybeg (which means “small town” in Gaelic) in Ireland’s County Donegal; Kate Mundy and her family are desperately trying to hold onto their home—and each other. Friel based his story of the Mundy sisters partly on the lives of his mother and her sisters, who grew up in the town of Glenties on Ireland’s rugged West coast. The play in set during the Celtic celebration of Lughnasadh: a time of reaping what has been sown.
A “memory play,” Dancing at Lughnasa is told from the point of view of Michael, the adult child of Christina, (the youngest of the five Mundy girls) who has fallen under the spell of Gerry Evans—a charming but irresponsible travelling salesman. Gerry floats in and out of their lives, leaving Christina devastated each time he leaves. Michael is 7 and Christina is 26 during this August of great change at the Mundy cottage. Kate is the eldest of the girls, and is the only wage-earner of the family, as well as the authority figure.
Next in line is Maggie, an earthy woman who serves as the primary “homemaker” for the family. It is her sense of humour that seems to offer the most support to her sisters, defusing any tensions that arise among the ladies. While challenging Kate’s authority, but in a joking manner, Maggie also serves as her sister’s confidante.
The two remaining sisters are Agnes, who is 35 and secretly infatuated with Gerry. She and Rose bring in a small amount of money by knitting gloves, but that soon ends when a knit wear factory opens in a nearby town. Rose, who is 32, has a developmental disability so she would not be able to get work at the factory—and Agnes won’t go without her. Rose’s innocence causes her to fall prey to an unseen local boy named Danny Bradley, whom she thinks is in love with her.
Also on hand is the women’s older brother, Father Jack, who has returned home after 25 years as a missionary at a leper colony in Uganda. Father Jack is suffering from malaria and has trouble remembering things—including his sisters’ names. It becomes clear as things progress that Father Jack is not the man he used to be.
With evocative sets and costumes and fine acting that will surely tug at your heartstrings, don’t miss your chance to see this production. Tickets are £14 (£12 concession) and on sale from the Burnavon Box Office, by telephone 028 8676 9949 or online at www.burnavon.com