Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company presents
Dancing At Lughnasa
Written by Brian Friel and Directed by Tamara Harvey
Tuesday 23rd February 2010
The snow was falling as I arrived at The Rep and yet once inside the auditorium I was transported back to an August day in 1936 through the recollections of Michael Evans played by Barry Ward who as narrator recounts his experiences as a 7 year old boy visiting his aunts in fictional Ballybeg.
The stage had been transformed into the rural home of three sisters Christina, Rose and Kate who had recently welcomed back their now frail elder brother Father Jack played by Peter Gowen who had been a missionary in Africa for many years. Michael’s father Gerry Evans played by Daniel Hawksford makes a rare visit to the cottage during that time and once more fails to take his responsibilities seriously preferring to drift through life and yet having a profound impact upon those around him. This is a very nostalgic and often sad story set against the backdrop of the festival of Lughnasa (pronounced Loo-na-sa), the festival of the first fruits and the outcome of that summer for the sisters at a time of economic and social turmoil.
Director Tamara Harvey and her excellent cast brought to life a fascinating story and one which kept the large audience engaged all evening. It is a production that you have to concentrate on as you need to tune into the accents. The set designed by the well experienced Colin Richmond was quite amazing in its detail and scale and has to be seen to be believed. It was as if the cottage and ground had been picked up and placed in the theatre. The contemporary music and the Marconi radio were spot on and the excitement and dance at times ecstatic. All this was a contrast to the sadder and unavoidable times ahead.
The whole cast worked very hard and produced an exceptional evening but it was the ladies who made it for me. Kate played by Penny Layden, Maggie by Siobhan McSweeney, Rose by Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Christina by Claire Rafferty & Agnes by Elaine Symonds who were perfectly cast and gelled together immediately. The play originally won the 1990 Laurence Olivier Award and Broadway Award for Best New Play.
The running time is 2 hours and 30 minutes including one interval and the production can be seen until Saturday 6th March 2010.
- Clive Fuller
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