BrieaReviewed by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Moved to tears is one of the many ways one could describe the experience of Open Fist Theatre Company’s, Dancing at Lughnasa directed by Barbara Schofield.

There is an embrace that comes with this production. An invisible warmth of joy and sadness all at once and an unmistakable dread of knowing, at least suspecting, that not only will this one moment in time not last except in the memory of the storyteller. But that everything about these people, every word spoken, every action or nonaction, every fleeting happiness, every memory, quirk, prank, truth, and lie is and will be as precious to us as mortality to the gods.

If in no other way, and for most of the time, truly there is no other solace for any of them to break the inescapable heartbreak of their lives, in Brian Friel’s Tony-award winning masterpiece, dancing in the time of the Lughnasa harvest festival is a wild ecstatic revelry that each of Friel’s characters long for, most of the time deny themselves, but at least once, partake. So beautifully encapsulated here by the entire cast, the story is awaved in extraordinary emotional depth and scintillating flashbacks, punctured by the kind of lighthearted, charismatic humor that so describes the song-filled spirit of the Irish people.

Dancing at Lughnasa is set in the summer of 1936 during the Celtic harvest festival of Lughnasa. Five unmarried sisters — Kate, Maggie, Agnes, Rose, and Chris — live in the rural Irish countryside outside the tiny village of Ballybeg; loosely based on the lives of Friel’s mother and aunts, the play is a rich and deeply moving portrait of their everyday lives, as remembered through the eyes of Chris’s seven-year-old son, Michael, now an adult.

There will be no happy endings for any of them. And yet, how these people connect during this one precious moment, how they go on despite all of the things that will never happen is the gift that Friel through Michael gives us and them. As the family breaks apart they will still always be together at least in the two hours allotted in the story.

Starring Lane Allison, Sandra Kate Burck, Christopher Cappiello, Martha Demson, Caroline Klidonas, Scott Roberts, David Shofner, Ann Marie Wilding, Jennifer Zorbalas

Very Highly Recommended

Photo (above) by Darrett Sanders: Caroline Klidonas, Lane Allison, Sandra Kate Burck,
Martha Demson and Ann Marie Wilding

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