The Lyric Theatre’s eagerly awaited new production of Dancing at Lughnasa has opened to massive success.

With fully sold out opening shows already under their belts, this play certainly looks set to exceed the audience’s deservedly high expectations.

Winner of an Olivier Award and a Tony Award, Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa is one of the most highly acclaimed and best-loved Irish plays of recent times.

The production stars Charlie Bonner, Declan Conlon, Catherine Cusack, Vanessa Emme, Cara Kelly, Catherine McCormack, Mary Murray and Matt Tait.

It is the first time that a major production in Ireland of this story of five sisters in 1930’s Donegal will have been directed by a woman – award-winning Annabelle Comyn.

The play is set during the Celtic harvest festival of Lughnasadh in 1936, and tells the story of the Mundy sisters and their brother Jack, who has returned home from the missions after 25 years away. The story is told by the sisters’ nephew, Michael, who recalls the summer spent with his aunts when he was seven years old.

As August gives way to September, Michael recounts his memory of childhood in his native Ballybeg, where his aunts raised him in their crumbling, rural home and where once they danced. A wild, raucous dance. A dance to the exciting, fleeting melody of the past and a dance against the harsh, progressive beat of the present.

The hotly anticipated play delivers fantastic, fast-paced Irish humour, delivered superbly by the cast who truly look and act like a family in every way. Mary Murray, who plays Rose, is the notable stand-out star, with her fantastic one-liners, expert comedic timing, hilarious facial expressions and gestures, along with the ability to portray the innocence mixed with humorous stubbornness that reminds one of a child of lesser years.

Meanwhile Cara Kelly is magnetic throughout as the boisterous, hilarious, eccentric Maggie Mundy.

But it is the work of the cast as an ensemble which makes this play work so fantastically well, with each character the perfect personification of Friel’s imagination, with the tone of the play quickly turning from hilarious to sombre and thought-provoking without skipping a beat.

This is definitely one play not to be missed for theatre fans, particularly those who have ever read Brian Friel as it is truly the perfect adaptation. It is available to watch at the Lyric theatre from August 26 -September 27, after which it will transfer to the Gaiety in Dublin as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.


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