...is a book I had never read. In fact, I do not own a single book by Brian Friel despite the shelves bursting at the seams with Irish literature in my house. Why do I write about it now? Why about a book in the first place? Actually I am going to write you something short and sweet about a theatre play. And no, I am not even a regular theatre goer. I wish I was. Hence, I dare not write a review, other than wholeheartedly praising the performance I saw and recommend to you the event where it was included for your future Northern Ireland and Donegal visits.
Arts over borders presents just that: Festivals on both sides of the border, in particular these two wonderful events - the Lughnasa FrielFest and Happy Days: Enniskillen International Beckett Festival.
Brian Friel's work is perfectly suited as the writer was born in Omagh in Northern Ireland and died in Greencastle, Inishowen, Donegal, in the Republic of Ireland. The whole country was dear to his heart and yes, he was politically active. At the same time, he depicted Irish people and their lifes as sharp-eyed as hardly any other and did so often using avantgarde styles.
His most popular book may well be "Dancing At Lughnasa", also turned into a movie starring Meryl Streep.
Now I have visited both sides of the border often and I had never heard of the festivals, neither had quite a few people who are locals. How did I hear about it? Eternally thankful to a Cornish visitor who recommended it to me. Unfortunately I do not know the name of the lady but she was part of a merry gang of participants of the Ramelton walking tour Ramelton Walking Tour with Deirdra Friel (a relation?). Comes equally highly recommended!.
We were intrigued, a theatre play in unusal locations with well-known actors and actresses, getting to know a Brian Friel play and see a bit of Donegal, what's not to like. Yep, that's what we attended (even though a recital on several beaches in both Co. Donegal (RoI) and Co. Derry (NI) with Greta Scacchi was equally tempting): The Faith Healer by Brian Friel, a play consisting of four monologues by three people, performed by Dearbhla Molloy (whose performance touched me to the point of crying), Patrick Bergin and Robert Glenistor the weekend we attended. It is a dark piece but read it for yourselves. All I need to tell you that both festivals are choc-a-bloc with magnificent performances. We only saw the one, but there was more to the already told. The four monologues took place in four different places in Portnoo, Ardara and Glenties, church halls, ballrooms, etc. A bus took you there on narrow streets (at this point a hurray for the busdriver and of course also the young lady who was our guide through it all) through gobsmacking scenery. And a barbecue was thrown in as well. Outstanding value for money - I don't know how they do it. But the performances are the part of it that will stay with me for a very long time to come. So, if you are in the vicinity, watch out for the festivities and join in.