Sunday 25 February 2018

From 'Fair City' to Jane Austen . . . Aoibhin knows no prejudice

MOST AGREEABLE: Aoibhin Garrihy who plays Jane Bennet in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ at The Gate
MOST AGREEABLE: Aoibhin Garrihy who plays Jane Bennet in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ at The Gate
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

SHE played a cocaine headcase (Sally) in the first series of Love/Hate, a man-eating homewrecker (Neasa) in Fair City, and now innocent Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice at The Gate.

But when asked which one of these complex characters most resembles her own, Dublin actress Aoibhin Garrihy says with a chuckle that Neasa in Fair City was "kind of similar to myself. I mean, the longer you spend on a soap, the writers start to get to know you," she says of the part that she played for three years until she left in August this year. "And they write with you in mind." So you're a man-eater? "No!" Aoibhin hoots.

"She was a good girl at the end. She moved from bad girl to good girl."

As for Snorty Sally in Love/Hate, she says: "That was blink and you miss me. It was one scene! She was a kind of cocaine fiend. She was just doing cocaine in the toilets and came out with Tommy."

She actually auditioned for another Aoibhin's part -- Aoibhin McGinnity's part, who played Nidge's wife. "I remember reading the script initially and thinking oh my God this is mad for RTE."

Was her Love/Hate character having sex and doing coke in the toilet with Tommy?

"No! I had just come from doing cocaine in the toilet and was chatting to Tommy and another guy in the bar but let's not dwell on it!"

What we can dwell on, however, is the role in the play at The Gate that is breaking box office records. And that Ms Garrihy has made the role her own.

"Jane Bennet is kind of holier than thou," she says of her character's personality.

And is she?

"No!" she laughs, dressed up in full costume, make-up and hair coiffed and pulled to the nines, as she is about to go onstage at The Gate in 10 minutes." Pride and Prejudice is iconic. It is the original love story. Two people who you would never put together in love. For Jane, I find that the real love story -- her and Bingley," she says of Charles whom Jane marries.

"They fell naturally in love. That's how Elizabeth describes it. There have been so many rom-coms since. They have all been based on the same idea."

I ask her are there things that Jane did in her life that Aoibhin Garrihy definitely wouldn't have done.

"We live in a very different world now. Jane discovered Bingley had left Netherfield and gone to London -- which in those days was possibly a whole day travelling -- by a letter from his sister which was the last she heard from him. I probably would not have accepted that, or him back so easily. Firstly a sibling getting involved in your relationship affairs is not ideal and with text, email, social media, Skype etc, I would have expected some word from him at least and a very legitimate excuse!" Aoibhin has been going out with Clare hotelier John -- who manages the Armada in Spanish Point -- for three years now. Is her gentleman in Clare like Jane's Mr Bingley in any way?

"Amiable, agreeable, charming with very gallant manners? Yes I am happy to say he's very like Charles Bingley!" smiles the 26-year-old Dubliner from Castleknock.

Back in Jane's time, that would make you practically an old maid.

"Exactly. Jane is 22 in Pride and Prejudice and yeah, they say -- 'five girls out and not one yet married.' The mother is having a bit of a heart attack."Pride and Prejudice will run at The Gate Theatre until January 12.


Irish Independent

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