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Dancing at Lughnasa: A Play Paperback – December 30, 1998


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Paperback, December 30, 1998
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (December 30, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571144799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571144792
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"There is no doubting we are in the thrall of as masterly a dramatist as the theatre possesses." --The Times

About the Author

Brian Friel was born in Omagh, County Tyrone (Northern Ireland) in 1929. He received his college education in Derry, Maynooth and Belfast and taught at various schools in and around Derry from 1950 to 1960. He is the author of many plays that have taken their place in the canon of Irish Literature, including Philadelphia, Here I Come! (1964), Lovers (1967), Translations (1980), The Communication Cord (1982), and Dancing at Lughnasa (1990). In 1980 he founded the touring theatre company, Field Day, with Stephen Rea.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 19, 1998
Format: Paperback
This play is based in the small town of Ballybeg. A small town where the people have small, closed off minds. Life is hard back then, as the adult Michael comments the industrial revolution only comes to Ballybeg at the end of the play, and this is te 30's and Ireland is going through an economic depression.. This is the story of the 5 Mundy sisters, Kate, Agnes, Maggie, Christina and Rose. All with different, totally unique personalities. Also in the family are Father Jack, who has returned from African missionaries who has become "sick" and nativeised and the illegitimate son os Christina. The father is Gerry, an irresponsible, charming man from Wales. The play follows their lives through the month of August (Lughnasa = the irish word for August, coming from "Lugh" the pagan god of the old irish). I thought this was a very good book, nothing seems to happen, yet everything changes irrevocably. It is a page turner, I was warped into the world of the Mundys, so different to my own. Emotions, feelings and fears are woven into this masterpiece of Irish literature.The best part of the play for me, was the ending. Absolutely brilliant.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
Set in Donegal in 1936, during Ireland's change from an agrarian to a more industrial economy, Brian Friel's haunting ensemble drama of five sisters and their priest brother reveals the economic, social, and religious pressures in the rural community of Ballybeg on the eve of the harvest festival of Lughnasa. Forty-ish Kate, who sees herself "in charge," is the only real wage earner in the family. Rigid, severe, and completely lacking in humor, she believes pagan celebrations, such as Lughnasa, which provide fun and enjoyment in the countryside, are "uncivilized." Her brother Jack, the priest, however, on furlough from his missionary work in Uganda, is now virtually a pagan himself. His work has shown him the need of the poor for happiness, dancing, and community celebration, even if it is not church-sanctioned.

The other Mundy sisters help illustrate the ironic chasm between Kate's attitudes and those of Fr. Jack. Maggie, the fun-loving, free-spirited, and most humorous of the sisters, constantly bursts into song and dance and longs to go to the town dance. Christina feels no shame whatever about her love-child and thoroughly enjoys the summer visit of his father, Gerry Evans, with whom she dances spontaneously. Aggie and Rose, who earn small wages knitting gloves, work tirelessly as the family's sad, "unpaid servants," constantly chafing against Kate's imposition of her own values on them. When the local priest fails to rehire Kate because of Fr. Jack's apparent paganism, the family is devastated, but it is at that moment that they recognize the need to celebrate life itself.

The narrator is Michael, Christina's love-child, now in his fifties, who sets the scene and comments on the action throughout.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
I was recently in Ireland and heard about Friel, an Irish native, and his powerful work. When I returned, I ordered Dancing at Lughnasa and didn't put it down until the last scene was complete. This is a riveting story of the family dynamic among five sisters and the men in their lives. Beautifully written I could hear each voice, each accent!, could see the sisters as they knitted in the kitchen and danced in the garden. One of the most interesting techniques Friel uses is the non-existant son of one of the sisters. His words are mouthed by the narrator and I'd be interested to know how it fleshes out on stage, but it is wonderfully done here. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in theatre, Irish culture, or good reads.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sarah on September 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
A few years ago, my drama instructor suggested that this play should be performed. No one had ever heard of it before, but after listening to a brief summary, everyone was practicing their Irish accents. Through sheer luck, I was cast in the play (as Christina)and today I still cannot put the script down, it is that good. The cast size and setting is extremely small, which in this is case works really well because each character is so complex that any additional clutter would take away from the overall experience. But even if not seen performed, the script is great on its own. Although the plot is almost depressing, Friel mixes enough subtle humor and wit that the play does not loose any of its energy. This is a play that really should be made known to many more people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Crowe TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
"Dancing at Lughnasa" is perhaps not Friel's greatest work -- "Translations" is perhaps less sentimental and more disturbing -- but it reads well, and it's a great theatrical experience. Like Synge's "Playboy," though set about thirty years later, it focuses on the plight of women in the west of Ireland, where eligible men are thin on the ground. Decades of emigration and a move to the industrializing east have left the Mundy sisters with slim pickings, in an area where any kind of sexual freedom for them is made impossible by the prevailing Catholic ideology, represented here by Kate, the oldest sister and main breadwinner. When their brother, a priest, comes back home from his African mission, and when it becomes clear that he has been sent back because he has "gone native," interesting questions are raised about "modernization" (the radio) and about Christianity and paganism, including the old paganism of Ireland which is still acknowledged to some extent in the Lughnasa festival. The story is narrated by the illegitimate son, now an adult, of Christine,one of the sisters, and the play is in effect his memory of these 1930's days which see the breakup of the family in the wake of romantic and economic disappointments, as well as a last poignant visit from his father. The five sisters -- one of them, Rose, is "simple" -- are marvellously individualized, and the stresses and affections among them (and their brother) are beautifully clear, and one of them, Agnes, comes close to being a tragic heroine. The dancing scenes -- there are two kinds, perhaps three if one counts the priest -- heartbreakingly represent what satisfactions are available to them and also the limits of these satisfactions.Read more ›
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