Composers and their stage works 


Brian Friel

Three generations ago the head of the O'Donnell family served on the supreme court of Ireland. His son became a judge on the lower court and his grandson presided over one lower still. Now the last male O'Donnell is a failed solicitor.

The last judge lies dying at his home, Ballybeg Hall, but with some malice expires on the eve of his daughter's wedding day forcing its postponement. But Claire, the bride-to-be has not been eager to leave the mansion where she lives and where her personality and ambition have been suitably crushed for marriage to an elderly grocer.

One sister, Judith, is a slave to Ballybeg Hall where seventeen buckets have to put out to catch the water whenever it rains. Another sister, Alice, a surly alcoholic has married the son of their former maid. Their only brother Casimir has come from Hamburg where (he says) he has a wife and three sons, but he is most at home in the non-existent past.

The greatest victim among these walking wounded, however, is Alice's husband, Eamon, the local boy who had the most promising career of all and now lives in a tiny basement, has a job he hates and pines for Judith who turned down his proposal years earlier.

As the family approaches what can only be described as doom, Uncle George finally speaks after years of being mute.