(Peter Crawley’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 8/28.)

Marconi, the wireless set acquired by the five unmarried Mundy sisters in 1936 Ballybeg, seems to have developed a mind of its own. At least that’s how Michael remembers it, as a thing possessed, blaring to life or falling away at will. As the adult narrator of Brian Friel’s 1990 memory play casts his mind back, memories are no easier to command. They come unbidden; to delight, disturb, overwhelm.

On the 25th anniversary of Friel’s remarkable play, director Annabelle Comyn’s respectful and inquisitive revival is engaged as much with nostalgia – more acutely, the pain at the root of that word – as the act of summoning itself. The staging of the Lyric Theatre’s production, in association with the inaugural Lughnasa International Friel Festival, may seem unusually austere, with Paul O’Mahony’s set erasing the small home’s boundaries in favour of a dominant patina mirror that looms down from above. It suggests a play where reflection is more wary than warm.


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