To explore how various Irish playwrights portray concerns of the Irish, a approach of; social, cultural and political issues will be compared with the prescribed texts Dancing at Lughnasa (1990) by Brian Friel and The Beauty Queen of Leenane (1996) by Matrin McDonagh. This will illustrate how Irish composers effectively use theatre as a vehicle of expression. Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa is a memory play set in Donegal 1936, in the fictional town of Ballybeg. It is narrated by Michael Evans, who recounts the summer in his aunts' cottage when he was seven years old. In the 1930’s in the midst of the great depression, Ireland experienced severe levels of economic hardship. Friel reflects this concern in the costumes of the Mundy sister and the furnishing of the house which conveys their “lean circumstances” (Act1). Friel’s social concerns further extend in the economical status of the family. After Kate loses her job and the knitting factory is established as a result of Irelands “Industrial Revolution” (Act2), there is no steady income into the family. This leaves the sisters in a hard financial position, severely impacting on their socio economic status. “In a class room workshop, my group and I decided in to show this level of hardship through meiga costumes. When re-enacting the opening scene, we decided to use neutral colours such as brown and blacks, and wear loose clothing with many layers”. This encapsulated the financial hardship within society at the time of the world most severe economical downturn. McDonagh’s, The Beauty Queen of Leenane tells the story of a 40 year old single Irish woman, Maureen Folan and her old manipulative mother Mag who live in the Irish village of Leenanae. It develops the relationship of interdependence between a tyrannical mother and her daughter Maureen who misses her one chance of escaping from her dreary life and as a consequence murders her mother. The social concerns that McDonagh conveys is the issue of...
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