Tuesday 16 October 2018

Deirdre likes her role as Rosalind

This time last year, the Irish actress Deirdre Mullins was ticking three wishes off her list after appearing in 16 Possible Glimpses at the Peacock Theatre. "Being directed by Wayne Jordan in a Marina Carr play at your National Theatre. It doesn't get any better than that," she tells me over the phone from London. That was until a chance encounter with director James Dacre led to her landing the part of Rosalind in the Globe's first touring production to come to Ireland, As You Like It, which opens at the Kilkenny Arts Festival this Friday.

"If I had been told a year ago that I could play one more part before I die, it would totally have been Rosalind" she says. "She's Shakespeare's first great ingenue, up for banter and buzzing off everyone she meets."

"James and I had a mutual friend and I met him at this mutual friend's play. I talked the ear off of him, not clocking at all that he could be of use to me. I got the call for the audition a month later."

A study on twists and turns, trials and tribulations, As You Like It is a litmus test of love that ranges from lust to true love, where our lovers leave the tyranny of the city in search of the mischievous, buoyant countryside.

"Shakespeare wrote the play after 1599, shortly after he and his fellow actors had left the playhouse that they had occupied on the north of the Thames," Dacre tells me. "They had been denied a licence and kicked out, so had to build a new theatre on the South Bank. It reflects what was going on in his world at that time."

Much like Chapterhouse Theatre Company, who brought their Midsummer Night's Dream on a short tour of the country last week, As You Like It is staged outdoors, with a cast of eight playing 32 parts and, as with Dido and Aeneas, it features actors doubling up as musicians. "It's bedlam backstage, or behind the curtain that we have erected to change behind," says Mullins. "Because when you are not performing, you are helping someone into their costume, or tuning up your fiddle or gathering props. Last month, when we toured Romania, there was a serious risk that one of us might faint as we were pinned down beneath three layers of tweed."

Castle Yard at Kilkenny Design, Aug 10-19, €25/22 www.kilkennyarts.ie/

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