Theatre Review: “Dancing at Lughnasa” at Atwater Village Theatre


Two women dancing in the middle aand other female family members ate cheering them on

(L-R) Caroline Klidonas, Lane Allison, Sandra Kate Burck, Martha Demson and Ann Marie Wilding in “Dancing at Lughnasa” (Photo – Darrett Sanders)

Another excellent production from Open Fist Theatre Company at conveniently located Atwater Village Theatre.

By Carol Edger Germain

Set in a small town in Ireland in 1936 during the Celtic harvest festival of Lughnasa, Brian Friel’s play (directed by Barbara Schofield) is a nostalgic reminiscence, seen through the eyes of our narrator, Michael (David Shofner), the son of Chris (Caroline Klidonas), one of five unmarried sisters sharing the joys, sadness, and hope of their simple lives at a time when all are optimistic, sensing change, but unknowingly are sharing the last season when the family is all together.

We meet the family as they anticipate the annual festival and connect with each other and the friends and family who weave in and out of their lives.  The oldest sister, Kate (Martha Demson), is stern and set in her ways, Maggie (Lane Allison) is the entertainer, always ready with riddles and dance moves, while Agnes (Ann Marie Wilding) and Rose (Sandra Kate Burck) manage the household.  Rose has an unspecified developmental disability and is innocently childlike, which leads to a traumatic event.  Michael yearns for more connection with his father, Gerry (Scott Roberts), who surprises the family with one of his intermittent visits.  It is heartwarming and heartbreaking to see the joy on Chris’ face, as we know he’ll be gone with the wind soon.  Father Jack (Christopher Cappiello) has just returned from missionary work in Uganda but it’s clear that he was the one who was converted.  His stories of his experiences with Ugandan culture and religious ceremonies were intriguing, and it’s obvious he yearns to return.

It is easy to connect with the characters, the actors all successfully brought the family to life, the basic humanity and need for connection comes through, and we want to know them, go to the festival with them, and befriend them on their journeys.

A man and in a hat smiling at a woman and a sister in the background is looking at them

Caroline Klidonas and Scott Roberts in “Dancing at Lughnasa” at Atwater Village Theatre (Photo – Darrett Sanders)

Dancing at Lughnasa
• 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, and Jennifer Zorbalas.
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90039

• August 24, 25, 26, 30, 31.
Free parking in the Atwater Xing lot one block south of the theater.
Purchase tickets here.

Carol Edger Germain

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