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Classic tale goes back to its roots

THE ORIGINAL stage version of a Hollywood hit is coming to Birmingham Rep this month.

THE ORIGINAL stage version of a Hollywood hit is coming to Birmingham Rep this month.

Dancing at Lughnasa might be known to many as a big screen bittersweet take on rural life in Ireland in the1930s but it was as a play that it first rose to prominence.

Brian Friel’s acclaimed work started its life on the stage, ending up in the West End and Broadway where it won a clutch of awards.

Set in rural Donegal, it focuses on the Mundy sisters at one particular point in their lives.

Barry Ward plays the part of Michael, who is recalling events from his past and looking back to when he was seven years old.

Speaking to the Solihull News, Barry said: “It’s about a young man remembering his childhood, particularly the summer of 1936 and the Festival of Lughnasa and his aunts and mother.

“Michael is basically talking to the audience about that summer when he was a seven-year-old boy. It’s a memory play that takes place in his mind.

“He is articulating through monologues and his vivid imagination and all these characters are brought to life.

“They are very strong women, vivacious and full of life. To a boy of seven they are his entire world.”

With Michael as a narrator he does not interact with this cast of strong women, even though they share the stage.

“We don’t exist in the same reality or time and space, though we are in close proximity physically.”

The play stays close to the original and Michael is confident a talented and enthusiastic cast will do justice to what can be a difficult play to pull off.

“We have a great bunch and I know if it’s done right it can be really powerful – it’s a great play.”

Barry stumbled into the acting profession, enjoying an unexpected career as a child actor. As a 14-year-old the Dubliner chosen to play the part of John Paul in the BBC’s adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s ‘The Family’.

Explaining how it all came about, Barry said: “I guess it was a lucky break. They were holding open auditions, with casting agents visiting schools. I think they were looking for a non-actor and I fitted the bill.”

Dancing At Lughnasa is at the Birmingham Rep from February 19 until March 6. Tickets cost from £10 to £32. To book, visit or call the box office on 0121 236 4455.



Cathrina Hulse
Multimedia Journalist
Annette Belcher
Multimedia Journalist
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