Friday 15 February 2019

Gatsby at the Gate and the Gilmore girl

Actress Kate Gilmore talks to our reporter about ambition, love and the acting bug

Kate Gilmour plays Kitty in The Great Gatsby at the Gate.
Kate Gilmour plays Kitty in The Great Gatsby at the Gate.
Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch

It's just a few days before she steps on stage in The Great Gatsby but Kate Gilmore looks like she has just gone a couple of rounds with Conor McGregor. Her arms and legs are a map of purpling bruises, the result, she tells me, of a bike accident that happened a week earlier.

"Yeah it was really perfect timing," she deadpans. "I was on my way to rehearsals. I kind of came off it on my side and at first, even though I got a little fright, I didn't even think I'd hurt myself at all. But I think it was just the adrenaline that was stopping me from feeling any pain."

The bike bruises will get a coat of makeup for Kate's performance in the show itself. The challenge of bringing F Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece to the stage is presenting such a well worn text in such a way that audiences still feel like they are seeing something new and fresh.

Some attempts at this have been less successful - one thinks of Baz Luhrmann's overwrought musical version of the story - but Alexander Wright's interactive, immersive experience has already played to warm reviews in the UK, and he has collaborated with the team at the Gate to create a vision of the dying years of the Jazz era.

"Once you enter the doors you're in Gatsby's mansion," Kate explains. "It's not a traditional play; you'll see all the characters and different conversations taking place all around."

Kate plays Catherine (Kitty) and has the same "determined eyes", gorgeously made up, that Fitzgerald ascribed to the character.

"She's a working-class girl, unlike Jay and Daisy," Kate explains. "Kitty is full of hope and naivete, and then as the disillusion of the whole jazz age takes hold her world comes crashing down. I think I have quite a bit in common with her."

In fact the 24-year-old's career has gathered momentum in recent years, thanks to an eye-catching talent, an unusual versatility in her performances and an almost ethereal 'Irish rose' look - dramatic eyes, porcelain skin and a Titian mane. Recently she has had a recurrent role on Fair City and on the big budget RTE legal drama Striking Out.

"I've been lucky with the parts I've gotten. I enjoy change and I couldn't do the same job every day, so I enjoy not knowing what's next.

"But I don't enjoy the hope that rises in you when you get a call back about a play you've always loved and you're doing all the calculations and hypotheses in your head about who's up for the part and so on. That can be hard."

Kate grew up in Artane, an only child. "I probably was a typical only child when I was a kid, but then I grew up and life happened to me," she laughs.

She is single at the moment - she lives with a close female friend - and says she wouldn't rule out dating an actor. "I do understand how people fall for each other on sets," she says. "You're acting like you're in love with someone and it's very easy to think, am I really in love with this person?"

For the moment though she is focused on her career and it's full steam ahead with rehearsal the second we finish speaking - bruises and all.

"It's grand, we dance our asses off in the show and everyone is bruised from giving it socks dancing the Charleston," she laughs. "So hopefully I won't stand out."

The Great Gatsby runs at the Gate Theatre Dublin from this Wednesday until September 16. Tickets: +353 1 874 4045, www.gatetheatre.ie

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