EXCERPTS FROM THE REVIEW
Below are excerpts from the September 9, 2018 MD Theatre Guide review of Dancing at Lughnasa by JV Torres.
This production of Brian Friel’s semi-confessional vignette is, essentially, a poetic reminiscence more than a morose recollection of a time with kin that came and went like a picturesque Irish sunset. The performance centers around conversations taking place in the kitchen of a small cottage and is decked with copious elements to stimulate an assortment of interests. From the undercurrents of unwise romances to the curiosities of pagan ceremonies, and encroaching industrialization effecting the way of life for the townspeople of Northwest Ireland, this tale unpacks an unhappiness hidden beneath their contrived smiles and folly. Michael’s narration pieces together this autobiographical recount with realizations and footnotes of their economic struggles and their futile attempts to remain united as a family – all the while periodically interjecting the solemn fate of all of them.
Watching this play, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the assertive interactions between these very skilled actors. Their dialogue was fluid and their antiquated Irish dialect didn’t veer off into obscurity too often. I did find there were more lows than there were highs, which might actually be an underlying motif as the story was a reverence of a moment in time, yet melancholy in its multifaceted connotations.
Director Amber Paige McGinnis did a masterful job of orchestrating Friel’s play and bringing it to life. The ambiance of the Everyman Theatre is truly quite beautiful, which made the stage all the more impressive. Set designer Yu-Hsuan Chen deserves much credit for creating a meager, but detailed cottage and kitchen. Costume designer David Burdick deserves a nod for the impressive dress of the cast, which had an authentic feel for the time period.
Overall, this presentation and performance was first class. A beautifully written story coupled with a fantastic cast and a touch of history warrants a recommendation to all who adore fine stage plays.