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Aoibhinn's in a good place

THERE'S a few days till opening night for the second Dublin run of Ross O'Carroll-Kelly's Between Foxrock and a Hard Place and one of its stars has the giggles.

"All through rehearsals today, I couldn't stop laughing," says Aoibhinn McGinnity, who plays Ross's half-sister and Sorcha's best friend, Erika. "For some reason I kept stepping outside the characters and seeing them for what they are -- hilarious cartoons. Usually, I'm well able to keep a straight face." Aoibhinn leans across the table and confides: "Having said that, I do love a good giggle." We're having coffee in the Shelbourne Hotel, surrounded by an older crowd, but Aoibhinn does not go unnoticed. More than one head turns to take in her mass of black curls and doll-like features, and almost everyone has a smile for her. It's a quality that should take the 24-year-old a long way.

Aoibhinn began dance classes and amateur dramatics in her native Monaghan because her friend was getting involved, but it quickly became her ambition to go professional. A course after leaving school at the College of Dance in Monkstown led to three years at the celebrated London Studio Theatre.

"Acting is where I ended up being most comfortable," she says. "You know when you've found that one thing that gives you the most pleasure? I always got a huge shot of adrenalin after coming off stage."


Her first acting job didn't come for a while after finishing her studies. "I didn't have an agent and there wasn't much work. But then I got a meeting with an Irish casting director, who was casting the RTE production of Edna O'Brien's Wild Decembers. I got the part." It was the first step on a ladder that quickly led to Love/Hate, RTE's four-part gangland drama. Along with rehearsing Between Foxrock and a Hard Place, Aoibhinn is currently filming the second six-part series of Love/Hate, in which she plays Trish, the wife of gang member, Nidge. It's a part she clearly relishes.

"I was about to launch into what happens to me in the next series!" she says, before stopping herself. "Seriously, I can't. But there's great character development. Trish is a real gangster's moll. It was brilliant playing her the first time around, and I've had great acting chemistry with Tom [Vaughan-Lawlor] who plays Nidge."

Asked if the success of Love/Hate has changed anything, Aoibhinn says: "You meet directors who tell you they liked your work. But you are only as good as the last thing you did. You're always looking forward to getting the next job."

The next job for Aoibhinn was playing the pub quiz MC in the low-key RTE comedy-drama, Trivia, broadcast at the beginning of this year. "I love doing comedy," she says. From gangster's moll to femme fatale -- via comedy caricature -- it's the variety of parts Aoibhinn plays that keeps her interested, and it's something she wants to build on. "I can't see myself playing the same character in a soap for years," she says. So, with the notice she's getting as one of Ireland's bright new things, particularly for her work on Love/Hate, what does the call of success mean to Aoibhinn? "At the end of the day, no matter how much success you have, if you're a good egg, that's all that matters."