Dancing at Lughnasa (2017)

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Poster by Bryon Fear

by Brian Friel

Directed by Lisa Thomas

Performances: Tue 21st – Sat 25th March 2017, Upper Hall, Stanley Halls


The award-winning play about the lives, loves and hopes of the five Mundy sisters, set during the festival of Lughnasa in the final days of the summer of 1936 in County Donegal in rural Ireland. This lyrical tale has become a modern classic that combines romance, humour and heartbreaking tragedy.




Suzy Jacobsen Late post re Dancing at Lughnasa but I was dancin in me wellies.... So-where to begin...well the casting was superb-every character had their own nuances and the power play between them captured so effortlessly by the actors. A ' fly on the wall ' insight before they were ' a noo fangled ting' where the life lived by the Mundys is about what s NOT said, what SHOULDNT be said and finally what can NEVER be said to our nearest and dearest. For me the dancing was such a bittersweet motif of a Catholic family with so much love and life to give but which must be sublimated into the religious mores of the time. The unravelling of faith, like the unravelling of the knitting wool, comes with Father Jack's gradual revelations of baser styles of worship and is a symbolic herald to the modern age-a slow puncture in the idealistic bubble they defend. True to human nature we prefer to look back fondly, through a misty veil of nostalgia,as does the playwright here who similtaneously edits out the tensions, sacrifice, poverty, limitations preferring to exhalt domestic banalities as proof of a life simply,but authentically lived. It is in the tragic final monologue where truth resides-for all the beauty and simplicity of their lives seen from the outside in-we learn the damage of placing faith above family. Visually beautiful set and costume, so many stand out moments from every cast member but seeing Derek Dempsey going native in a ladies cardie has to be one memory I m filing for posterity! Congrats one and all! YEEZ WERE NAWT SHOITE!!

David Carr Well done cast and crew for a wonderful show this evening.

Laura Yandell Well done to the cast and crew of Dancing In Lughnasa. I really enjoyed it. It's one of my favourite plays so thank you Lisa Thomas for putting it on ☺️ xx

Isabella Jade Harrison Fantastic job Lughnasa cast! I was completely transported! Sooooo good!!!

Kait Feeney-Nash OK, I'm biased, but I so thoroughly enjoyed Lughnasa last night. Well done to all &, if you haven't already, get a ticket to see it!

Owen Chidlaw Today has been a good day. And what better way to round it off then a trip to South Norwood/county Donegal? Totally absorbing performances from all the cast of Dancing at Lughnasa (seriously, last orders felt like it was called an hour early, thats how quickly the time flew by). If I was to comment on any of the performances specifically, that would be a disservice to the rest of them! So I'll just say great show, very funny in places, very moving in others, but always captivating. Go see.... now!


Reminiscences and Anecdotes

The Director's View

We caught up with director Lisa Thomas and her cast during rehearsals last week to talk to her about SLT’s production of Brian Friel’s, Dancing at Lughnasa which opens next week.

What made you choose to direct this play?

I have always loved this play. I saw the original Abbey Theatre production on its transfer to the National many years ago. When I was looking for a play with a number of strong women’s roles I suddenly thought of this and felt it would be very rewarding for the cast – each of the Mundy sisters is beautifully defined – and a pleasure for the audience.

What kind of themes are explored in it?

Dancing at Lughnasa looks at what it was like to be an unmarried woman in the rural Ireland of the 1930s and the narrow range of ways that women were able to earn a living. It looks at different views of morality – both that of the Catholic Church and of the society of the time – and also how we are constrained by those – or conversely decide to ignore them or break from them as Father Jack and Gerry Evans do – and to some extent Christina has done. It’s about the importance of family and how we define that and how love can be expressed in many different ways.

What do you think will resonate with audiences?

I think audiences will be moved by the way that each of the sisters chooses to deal with their individual situations and the closeness and humour that binds them. I think they will be fascinated by Father Jack’s rejection of his long-held faith and his enthusiastic embrace of the very different religion that he has found at his posting in Africa. I think they will be charmed by the various dances from which the play gets its name.

What have been the challenges in directing the play?

We’ve had to try to find a way to achieve an approximation of the Donegal accent which is quite specific – with a cast of English and Irish actors – neither of whom are from Donegal and also hope that it sounds as if they are from the same family. We’ve had to bring out the humour of the play and also the underlying tragedy of some of the characters.

Who’s in the cast?

The cast is a mixture of SLT stalwarts including Cal Beckett, Naomi Liddle, Derek Dempsey, Catherine Ellis Raku-Evans and Jason Salmon, who are joined by two new members, Roisín Deady and Eugene Duffy, and second-timer Amy Flinders, who last appeared at SLT in When We Are Married.

See Also

Dancing at Lughnasa (1996)


External Links