is a very richly textured play, and is commonly considered to be Brian
Frielís masterpiece. Besides its compelling story, the play features a
metatheatrical staging technique in which the narrator represents himself as
a boy in scenes remembered from his youthóby speaking his part while the
other actors relate to the space he would have occupied as the boy.
play is a bittersweet story told by Michael Evans of events he remembers
from August of 1936, when he was seven years old and living with his unwed
mother and her four sisters in a cottage outside a small town in County
Donegal, Ireland. The routine of Michael's matriarchal family is upset by
the appearance of two men.
is his father, Gerry, who visits the family for the first time in over a
year on his way to join the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.
Gerry rekindles his romance with Chris, Michael's mother, through dancing in
the garden to music wafting by on the family's first radio set. As a virile
man among unmarried and aging women, Gerry stirs up forgotten passions in
Another crisis, this one of a spiritual nature, is brought on by
Michael's uncle Jack, a Catholic priest who has been on a mission to a leper
colony in Uganda for twenty-five years, and who has come home to recuperate
from malaria. Instead of converting the Africans to Christianity, he has
absorbed elements of their traditional culture and religion, and is now, in
the opinion of the local parish priest, unfit to say Mass. Father Jack's
amalgam of religious practices - "his own distinctive spiritual search" as
his conservative sister Kate puts it - creates a scandal in their insular
community and eventually costs Kate her job as a schoolteacher. Jack's
condition highlights the similarities between the indigenous cultures of
Ireland and Africa.
Lughnasa is a pre-Christian Celtic harvest festival honoring the Celtic
god Lugh, featuring drunken revelry and dancing around bonfires. In the
early twentieth century in Ireland, a form of the traditional festival and
its rites were still being observed. Although the "many-skilled" Lugh has
been described as "the Celtic god of just about everything," his presence in
this play is particularly evident as the god of music and dance played
haphazardly through the radio he inhabits, and the resulting impact on the
passions of the characters.
This play was chosen to serve as one studentís senior
research/performance project and to afford students the opportunity to work
on northern Irish, English, and Welsh dialects.
It is also notable in that it featured Equity actor and guest artist
David Cooper, who assumed the role of Michael.
Review from the student newspaper