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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Dancing...the very heart of life and all its hopes."
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...
Published on 29 Sept. 2004 by Mary Whipple

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3.0 out of 5 stars Touching
A simple reading of this play is not sufficient to infuse it with the charm that is obvious . Dramatic interpretation or add immeasurably.
Published on 27 Mar. 2013 by J. S. Slaughter


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Dancing...the very heart of life and all its hopes.", 29 Sept. 2004
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dancing at Lughnasa (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, however, a priest on furlough from 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 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. Rose, described as "simple," is in love with a married man and sneaks out to have fun with him. 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. Though Michael himself participates in the action as a child, the child is invisible to the audience. The characters speak to him as if he were real, and the adult Michael responds, but to the actors on stage, it is the narrator who is invisible. The message of the play is far stronger here than in its film version, starring Meryl Streep. In the play Kate is more hostile, and the fates of Aggie and Rose are revealed early, not withheld till the end. Fr. Jack's paganism is not regarded simply as mental illness, and the "clan of the round collar" is held to closer scrutiny. The play, though dark, is ultimately a joyful celebration of life itself, a life not bound by organized religion. Mary Whipple
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best plays of the 1990's., 12 Sept. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Dancing at Lughnasa (Paperback)
I discovered Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa through my Theatre Studies A Level course, as it was one of my set texts and I could write scores of essays on it's merits but that wouldn't do it justice. I don't think anyone can realise the true beauty of the writing and of the play itself unless they read the text or see a production of the play for themselves. Good as it may be, the film version cannot hold a candle to this superb play.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dancing At Lughnasa - A Play, 21 Oct. 2011
By 
J. Hayes - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dancing at Lughnasa (Paperback)
This is the book of a very famous Play, Dancing At Lughnasa.

For me, there is NOTHING to compare with seeing the Play in person. It is a very specific medium. So, this book is not like a book of fiction or a biography. Speaking personally, it would be hard for me to visualise the interactions, which are totally delightful, from reading this book alone.

So, when you open the book, you see the dialogue between the characters.

I believe the movie, starring Meryl Streep, which I have not seen, is different. Much would be lost from Stage to screen.

I would recommend this book to anyone about to see the Play or to anyone who has seen the Play.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Secure text which matches the Faber version exactly, 24 Sept. 2012
By 
Withnail67 (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dancing at Lughnasa (Kindle Edition)
I'm teaching Dancing at Lughnasa at the moment, and every time I do it reminds me that this is a play that is easy to read, fairly easy to absorb, but quite challenging to understand fully. This is a good quality Kindle text of Brian Friel's play, and it's especially nice to see that the pagination of this text very closely matches the printed Faber version that you're probably using for A level.

the review of the print version probably gives you most of the detail you need to know about the play itself-but just some thoughts: read and reread Michaels monologues really carefully-but only they are very unusual dramatic device (not unique though) but they highlight and foreground the play's key theme, which the me is memory. Michael's memory of his childhood runs parallel to the audience's memory of the idyllic innocence of 1930s song popularised the British audiences probably most memorably by the TV series Pennies From Heaven. Don't forget the dramatic irony that the audience knows that this limited, provisional idyll is doomed as the war which comes in 1939 will physically pass neutral Ireland by, but change everything in its path otherwise. Make sure you read the article on the play in the Cambridge Companion to Brian Friel. Good luck!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dancing at Lughnasa Brian Friel, 1 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Dancing at Lughnasa (Paperback)
I needed this book as part of my studies (I'm studying for an OU English Lit degree), and was very satisfied with this version of the book. It's a play set in the early twentieth century that features four fictional Irish sisters and the sometime boyfriend of one of them, who drops by every now and then and who has fathered a son by one of them. The adult son is the narrator of the story, about his childhood in the cottage in a small Irish village, where money is scarce and the sisters are both affected by social immobility and the difficulty of making a living. The inertia is illustrated here by the upcoming dance, and the fact that the sisters will never attend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brian Friel at his best., 5 April 2013
By 
Vivek K. Sarawgi (USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dancing at Lughnasa (Paperback)
I have seen the stage play three times and did not bother with the movie. To understand a very small but an important part of Irish history everyone should read this. It far removed from the Celtic Tiger economy that one thinks about. Real history, real hardship and family life in rural Ireland, its all here.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good picture is painted of Dancing at Lughnasa, 12 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Dancing at Lughnasa (Kindle Edition)
I really like the liveliness of this short play in book form. Good pictures were painted as I read the play and i could identify with some of the characters as I have three sisters!

I am looking forward to attending its production at The Riverside Theatre in Coleraine in October. Our Open Learning class is going to discuss it with our excellent Course Leader at QUB in October.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this, 1 May 2013
This review is from: Dancing at Lughnasa (Kindle Edition)
A reflective look at a moment in childhood that marked the end of family life as the narrator had known it.

Poignant and sad in many ways, but also uplifting. Friel allows his audience (as a play) a glimpse into the future of the protagonists lives, and suggests that for the narrator, the events marked a point that released him from the bonds of childhood and family.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Touching, 27 Mar. 2013
By 
J. S. Slaughter (east sussex , uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dancing at Lughnasa (Kindle Edition)
A simple reading of this play is not sufficient to infuse it with the charm that is obvious . Dramatic interpretation or add immeasurably.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dancing at Lughnasa, 15 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Dancing at Lughnasa (Kindle Edition)
I watched the film of Dancing at Lughnasa, and have now read the book. I can't recommend both highly enough. Excellent Brian.
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