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Sweet Show from Beehive Theatre Company

Anne Lucey catches a splendid Dancing at Lughnasa in Dingle

Beehive Theatre Company’s production of Dancing at Lughnasa in MacCarthaigh’s Pub is one of the finest I have seen.

The acting is superb, the timing is perfect, the set exact – and all this at the back of a pub in Dingle’s Upper Main Street.

From start to finish the central ironies, paradoxes if you like, of Friel’s Lughnasa are relentlessly kept before us. Discipline and order are about to break down- not just in the Lughnasa household, but also in the wider world.

Central to Beehive’s production is Rose played by Geraldine Martin. Rose is credibly daft, as in most good Friel productions, but in Beehive’s she takes on Shakespearian proportions. Rose is the bitter fool, the fool who tells the truth, who knows that wise men have grown foolish with misconception.

Rose is the butt of Kate’s anger, and of Agnes’s protection. Neutral with Maggie where she is only “Rosie”, she is blissfully not understood by Chris. Both Geraldine Martin’s taut playing of Rose and the sister’s reactions to her are superb. From the stiff-necked jerk to the wide unselfconscious smile to the gangly dancing and her slight lisp (Why aren’t all Roses played with a slight lisp?), Geraldine Martin is magnificent.

One of the reasons director Wendela Rosenberg chose Lughnasa was because of the roles it offered women and because many of the issues are still current- and the sisters give a ringing performance.

Agnes Lucinda Cook plays Agnes with just the right mix of restrain and passion. Trish Howley plays marmish schoolteacher Kate on the edge. She is not close to the edge, she is on the edge- this symbol of the virtues of order and discipline is being strained by events.

Trish Howley, in addition, also gives a passionate performance. Her facial expressions are exact, her outbursts breath taking.

Wendela Rosenberg is passionate about her craft and has inspired the cast to greatness.

Beehive’s production deserves to tour, and deserves a sponsor or backing to enable it to do so.