Okay, so as I’ve previously mentioned, I love period dramas. I love the history, the costumes, the drama, and, yes, the romance.
At this point, however, I’ve watched through the “known favorites” and I’m having to do a bit more hunting to find new, good material. I thought I would start sharing my adventures in case anyone else out there is having the same problem. Plus, as a storyteller, it’s fun to pick apart and analyze other stories.
So, Period drama round-up #1: Falling for a Dancer.
This 1998 BBC miniseries was filmed in West Cork and takes place in Ireland in the 1930s-40s. It stars Elisabeth Dermot-Walsh as Elizabeth, Liam Cunningham (aka Davos from Game of Thrones) as Mossy, Dermot Crowley as Neeley, and even a very young Colin Farrell as Danny. After seeing those names in the cast, I was already interested. (One of my favorite parts of period dramas is finding familiar faces in unexpected cast lists.)
The story follows Elisabeth through an unwanted marriage and her adjustment to rural Irish life. There were a lot of ups and downs through four episodes of this (definitely putting the “drama” in period drama), but the acting was very good. My personal interest in Irish history drew me to the story as well, and I liked the nuanced portrayal of different parts of Irish life (as much as I can comment on that). The Magdalene Laundries even make a brief appearance.
Elizabeth stood out as a strong and complex character. She delicately balanced a passionate temperament with a determination to accept her new and inescapable position, which I was not expecting. I honestly could not tell from the beginning if this would be a Madame Bovary situation or something with less of a tragic tailspin, but after watching the first episode, I was hooked to go along with the ride. Even if I’m mixing metaphors, you get the idea…
The drama was spattered with some brutal moments, but they were not treated lightly or easily forgotten, so I appreciated the realism surrounding them. Sometime I’ll have to do a whole post about this – see also Radway’s book Reading the Romance, which I will discuss in more detail some other time.
Overall, a good story and well worth the watch. I enjoyed the view of rural Ireland, and sometimes you want a good bit of melodrama in your entertainment experience.
Edited to add: you can watch Falling for a Dancer over on YouTube here.