Dancing at Lughnasa closes season for Actor’s Co-op

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Ovation Award winning Actor’s Co-op closes its 24th season with the Tony Award winning [Best Play 1992] Brian Friel masterpiece Dancing at Lughnasa a rich character study set in a small village in 1936 Ireland. It is a complex show filled with mind absorbing texture.

There are three men involved, one a Catholic missionary, a rather self-involved cad and his son each captivating in their own way. And there are five Mundy family sisters each with their own unique qualities.

The Mundy sisters are facing financial challenges, yet remain a generally joyful if diverse team all doting on Michael the love child of Christina Mundy and Gerry. But their lives are dramatically challenged when their brother, Father Jack, returns home after working in the leper colonies of Uganda for 25 years. He is weak from the ravages of malaria and suffering from a significant degree of memory loss.

Father Jack’s prognosis is grim making his return both joyous and painful. Adding to the challenges Father Jack brings to the Mundy home is his apparent absorption of many elements of the pagan religion of Uganda, a fact that causes great concern within the local Catholic Church.

Concurrent with the arrival of Father Jack, Gerry reappears in the life of Christina. He is loathed by the other sisters but he gradually wins them over as he agrees to finally marry Christina and accept full responsibility for his son Michael. Now let the games begin.

It is undeniably an intense and generally riveting tale well delivered by a team of clearly excellent actors. It can be a little difficult to follow at first but ultimately it is brought together and does fully capture the audience. One point in act two was both fascinating and intriguing to me. As was his role Michael offers his vision of the future of the entire family and it is not very pleasant. But then the show goes back several years and plays out towards what is seemingly the inevitable conclusion.

I did find that juxtaposition a wee confusing. Dancing at Lughnasa is undeniably a rich and powerful show superbly presented by Actors Co-op. Of particular note was the generally excellent job in delivering the show with a rich and proper Irish brogue. It is a great wrap of 24 high quality years of excellence in stage presentations and a wonderful welcome to Actors Co-op’s Silver Anniversary.

Dancing at Lughnasa runs now through June 12th 2016 at Crossley Theatre. 1760 N. Gower Street (on the campus of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood), Hollywood, California. Show times are Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. There will also be two Saturday matinees May 14th and June 11th both at 2:30 p.m. Reservations and ticketing available by calling 323-462-8460 or online at: www.ActorsCo-op.org.