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Dancing at Lughnasa

a play by Brian Friel, performed and published in 1990

rose agnes michael jack

This semi-autobiographical piece, set in 1936 in a decaying country house outside the fictional Irish village of Ballybeg, is narrated from some unspecified time in the future by Michael, the illegitimate son of Chris Mundy; and it involves her, her priest brother Jack, and her four sisters, Kate, Maggie, Rose, and Agnes. The principal events are visits by Michael's feckless Welsh father, the brief disappearance and probable seduction of the mentally backward Rose, and the gradual revelation that Jack, who has recently returned from a mission in Africa, has abandoned Catholicism for shamanism. One subject is the disintegration of home and family, soon to culminate in Rose's and Agnes's disastrous escape to England. Another is the paganism lurking below the shabby-genteel Christian surface and represented by the dancing that recurs during the play.

Clemence Dane, pseudonym of Winifred Ashton Biography - (1888–1965), pseudonym of Winifred Ashton, Regiment of Women, Legend, Broome Stages, A Bill of Divorcement [next]

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