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  • Oliver Boon

Dancing at Lughnasa: Our Town meets Pride and Prejudice

Written by Brian Friel

Directed by Barbara Schofield

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

Open Fist Theatre Company

Atwater Village Theatre

Our Town: The introspective narrator who shares with the audience a summer memory of his childhood. This production chose to incorporate the narrator and boy part into one where the other characters mime the the child while the narrator speaks the lines from the side. I normally am not the biggest fan when productions do this. But it worked here. I think it's because it was consistent and since this is all from the narrator's memories it created a lovely feeling as though the narrator was reminiscing and sharing his past with us, the audience.

Pride and Prejudice: Centered around a family of women and how they maintain a household. They are perfectly fine without men and if anything the men slow them down. It was a toss-up between Little Women and P&P but I went with latter simply the girls in Pride and Prejudice are of a more similar age.The women all have their own wonderful characters. It's almost an anti Pride and Prejudice. They've all almost given up on finding a man besides Chris. Chris would be Elizabeth. Agnes, Jane. Rose, Kitty. Maggie, Margaret. And Kate would be Mrs Bennett. It's not perfect but if you know both sources, you might agree with me!

The beautiful, rolling hills of Ireland hold many stories and secrets. Set in the summer of 1936 during the Celtic harvest festival of Lughnasa, Brian Friel’s Tony Award-winning play, loosely based on the lives of his mother and aunts, is a rich and deeply moving portrait of the everyday lives of five sisters, just as everything is on the brink of change.

The performances by the women are strong across the board. When the music plays, the women are able to escape the mundanity of their working lives and be free. Their specific movements perfectly encompass the different feelings and characters.

The Irish accents were especially good. Only a few glimpses of American but nothing that really took me out of the show.

The actress that played Rose (Sandra Kate Burck) was born to play this role. I want to meet her in real life and see how great the transformation was. Rose is very much a scene stealer part and it was no different here. Her character reminded me somewhat of a chicken (I mean this as a compliment!). She seemed to have a pecking sort of quality in her physicality which reflected her dynamic and impulsive personality.

Lane Allison played Maggie was the anchor of the family, keeping things light and keeping the sisters from fighting with her humor.

I liked Caroline Klidonas playing Chris, there was something about her performance that reminded me of a young Jennifer Grey. She played an ingenue in love with a man with such honest and open conviction.

What I find so smart about this play is how it depicts the men as the "interesting" and "adventurous" people, yet Brian Friel chooses to place the focus of the story on the women, who are the ones that really deserve it. Even the narrator describes guiltily as he got older how he left the nest "as men do". In some ways, Friel is making up for the men in his life by giving these women a spotlight through this play where they are not timeless and beloved.

I love the space at Open Fist. I was sitting front row and at some points when the characters walk out to the front porch, I could've been about a foot away from them. The background music reminded me of a 90s soap opera which gave this somber synth ambiance.

This was an incredibly heartfelt production of a an Irish period drama that the cast and director have excelled at bringing to life.

The Performances continue through Aug. 18 with showtimes at: Saturdays: 8 p.m. Sundays: 4 p.m. Mondays: 8 p.m.

Don't miss out!

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