Dearbhla in a scene from The Trojan Women in which she plays Hecuba
By David Hennessy
The Dublin actress Dearbhla Molloy made her name in the West End where she played Gertrude to Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet. Since then she has been nominated for a Tony Award for her portrayal of Margaret in Dancing at Lughnasa and appeared in well known films such as Tara Road, The Run of the Country and Educating Rita. She can now be seen at London’s Gate Theatre playing Hecuba in Caroline Bird’s modern reimaging of Euripides’ Greek tragedy, The Trojan Women. Also featuring Tamsin Greig, Dearbhla tells The Irish World why she finds it so challenging and rewarding: “I love the adaptation. I think Caroline bird is an astonishing young woman and a fantastic poet, I love the language and the wit.
“She’s taken the story and reinvented what happens within the story: the setting, relationships, language and all of that so it was better to approach it as a completely new play. I still think it’s hard to serve the tragedy, It’s that inexorable quality that a Greek tragedy has: The characters think they’ve reached the worst that they can reach and it continues to get worse and worse. That’s quite hard to do contemporaneously so there is a requirement to become really larger than life in order to fulfil the tragedy.
“I don’t find it an easy thing to do: It’s a merge of classic Greek tragedy and farce and that’s quite hard to get the style right, I’ll continue to work on that. I don’t know if I’ll ever get it. You never know.”
While she has appeared in Coronation Street for a short time, shared the screen with Catherine Zeta Jones in No Reservations, Dearbhla would consider London home even if she does “hop about a lot”.
Would she have a preference between screen and stage work? “It depends on the project. I would rather do a stage play than jobbing television but there are some television and film jobs that are absolutely wonderful. During the course of rehearsals I worked with Christopher Guest (Spinal Tap) and he works completely without script. I got a call to go along and put something on film for Christopher to look at because he was going to be doing this new series (Family Tree, also starring Chris O’Dowd). That in itself is exciting: You’ve got to prepare something with no script. You’re asked two questions: How did you get to Australia? And how did you meet your husband? That was the best fun. Then you sit around and wait to see if a) he likes what you and b) can use what you do in whatever it is he is putting together. I got the gig and then went off to film with him and Chris O’Dowd. He’s fantastic.
“It was the greatest fun because when you get there, he knows exactly what the film is going to be. Christopher Guest has written a script but no dialogue so you start a scene, he says “go” and it can be about anything you want. What could be better than being given a license to let your imagination fly? Then he’ll look at that and say: ‘I need you to say a little more about…’ whatever it is and that’s what it’s like. Now I was doing that at the same time as rehearsing for The Trojan Women. I couldn’t tell you which I preferred best. The Trojan Women was extremely hard work and felt like hacking something from a piece of stone and very vigorous and energising and all those kind of things. The other one was just pure joy, it was great gas. I couldn’t choose between them both because it depends on the material and that’s what it comes down to. I don’t have a preference for one over the other. It depends on the project.”
For the full interview see November 24 Irish World