Dancing at Lughnasa is an award-winning play by Irish playwright, Brian Friel, which explores the themes of identity, family unity and, above all, how our lives are shaped by the past.
This extraordinary play is the story of the five unmarried Mundy sisters, eking out their lives in a small Irish village in 1936. It is August, the time of the Festival of Lughnasa, a traditional harvest celebration which contains much drunkenness and dancing. However, while the community around them participates in these festivities, the Mundys remain isolated. Their existence is spare, interrupted by brief, colorful bursts of music from the radio -- their only connection to notions of romance and hope.
The action of the play is told through the memory Michael Evans, Chrissie Mundy's illegitimate son, as he remembers the five women who raised him: his mother and her four older sisters. He is only seven in 1936, the year his elderly uncle Jack, a priest, returns after serving for 25 years as a missionary in a Ugandan leper colony. For the young boy, two other disturbances occur that summer. First, the family acquires their first radio, which, through its music, transforms them from correct Catholic women to shrieking, stomping banshees in their own kitchen. Second, Michael meets his father for the first time -- Gerry Evans, a charming Welsh drifter who strolls up the lane and sweeps his mother away in an elegant dance across the fields. From these small events spring the cracks that destroy the foundation of the family forever.
Widely regarded as Friel's masterpiece, this haunting play is a tribute to the spirit and valor of the past. You certainly will laugh and you certainly will cry in the poignant Irish tale.