Sunday 23 October 2016

'Brian's death a great loss to theatre' - Dancing at Lughnasa star

Mary Murray said we should be 'grateful for his legacy'
Mary Murray said we should be 'grateful for his legacy'
Michael Colgan and Brian Friel, centre

One of the stars of the latest production of Dancing at Lughnasa has said the death of legendary playwright Brian Friel is "a great loss to Irish theatre".

Love/Hate actor Mary Murray, who plays Rose Mundy in the show being performed in the Gaiety Theatre next week, described Friel's passing as "very shocking news".

"I was in Marconi House, of all places, when I found out before an interview on Newstalk," she told the Herald. "I thought 'what a fitting place to find out', because in Dancing at Lughnasa one of the central parts is the radio 'Marconi'."

The same production was performed in August at the first Lughnasa International Friel Festival in Donegal.


"We knew Brian had been sick and he was unable to see it there," said Mary.

"His wife Anne attended though, and she enjoyed it.

"His death is a great loss to Irish theatre and we are grateful for his legacy."

Dancing at Lughnasa tells the story of three sisters in the Mundy family who live in a cottage in the fictional town of Ballybeg. It was first performed in the Abbey Theatre in 1990.

The play has previously won Olivier and Tony Awards and was adapted into a 1998 film starring Meryl Streep.

The latest revival as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival is directed by Annabelle Comyn and marks the play's 25th anniversary.

Festival artistic director and chief executive Willie White also paid tribute to Friel.

"It is very sad, but we can look at his great achievements," he said.

"We had a tribute on Wednesday for him at our gala night.

"We knew he was very sick, and had invited him on Wednesday - but he couldn't come.

"He said it gave his heart a life to know we were acknowledging his work."

Dancing at Lughnasa runs in the Gaiety Theatre from October 6-11.

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