Look back on your childhood, and events seem orderly and cause and effect is obvious. But think back to how you saw those events occurring as a child: The world was a mysteriously daunting place, and adults behaved enigmatically. This disconnect between what happened and how we remember it happening drives Brian Friel's memory play, Dancing at Lughnasa. Recalling a golden month spent in the Irish countryside during the late '30s, surrounded by four doting aunts, a loving uncle and his mother, Michael relates the events surrounding the Lughnasa, a harvest festival celebrating a pre-Christian fertility god. "Atmosphere is more real than incident," the older Michael tells the audience, and so his absentee father, the poverty that surrounded the Mundy family and its imminent dissolution are not shrouded in misery but in a sense of wonder. His father is back — maybe for good — and his aunts spontaneously break into joyful dance when they hear music on the radio. But it's an older Michael relating these events, and the sadness of the future still seeps into these memories, knowing as he does what comes after this summer. The Webster Conservatory of Theater Arts presents Dancing at Lughnasa at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (April 8 through 12) in the Emerson Studio Theater in the Loretto-Hilton Center on Webster University's campus (130 Edgar Road; 314-968-7128). Tickets are $6 to $12.
April 8-12, 2009