TV star Denise takes to stage in dark drama
Love/Hate star Denise McCormack is returning to theatre in a dark psychological drama about prostitution.
The new mother, who rose to fame in RTE's award- winning gangland series, describes how she met vulnerable women who work in Ireland's sex trade to prepare for the part in Marie Clare.
"They shared their stories with me and they were so horrific. One woman was beaten so badly her two eyes were black and blue for months," she recalls.
"If that happened to me I'd be an emotional wreck telling people about it but they were so detached while saying it, it's like a defence mechanism.
"The only way they can cope is to distance themselves emotionally from what is happening to them."
The taut, fictional drama by acclaimed director Frank Shouldice tells the story of a Donegal woman as she struggles to raise her children in an indifferent city.
McCormack explains: "I'm all for going to see a musical and going for entertainment but I also feel theatre has a duty to inform people and to show them what's going on in the world and where we are falling short, socially."
The actress says she found her character difficult to explore, given her new maternal role.
"My son Harvey is six months old now and I think after you have a child your whole outlook on life changes. Straight after you have a child you're so emotional. A lot of these women do it to put food on their table and for their children ... sorry, I'm getting emotional now," she stumbles.
"The rehearsal process is very dark but every evening I am going back and looking at this innocence. So it has been difficult."
McCormack will be remembered by TV viewers for her powerful portrayal of Linda in Love/Hate, and for a particularly raunchy love scene in the back of a 4x4. Her character, who couldn't conceive a child, took her life after she was scarred in a pipe bomb attack on her home.
The Dublin-born actress spent years worrying she couldn't have children. "I think every woman fears that it will happen to her. A few people I know can't conceive and it's terrible. But when I got pregnant I appreciated how lucky I was, I feel blessed."
Marie Clare's cast includes Jim Roche (When Harvey Met Bob) and Helen Behan, who starred in Shane Meadows' This is England '88. It runs Monday to Saturday in Theatre 36 in the Teachers' Club, Parnell Square, Dublin 1.