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Playing Marble

The mai was the first of Marina Carr's plays that I did, with Joan O'Hara and Olwen Fouere, and I did Portia Coughlin, which we took to the Royal Court. That was a hugely formative experience, playing Portia Coughlin.

Portia Coughlin is very dark, uncharted, sometimes abstract territory, but what packed the houses was the immediacy of the story, and the wit, the real tear-the-house-down laughter of some of those lines. And it's about how daring Marina is: she challenges you enormously, and pushes what is acceptably funny.

In Marble, there are two couples, and the man in one couple and the woman of the other start to have the same dream about each other. There's a supernatural aspect to this, and yet the characters completely accept it. For me, the central idea is that 'the unexamined life is not worth living'. But Marina doesn't state that, she takes that statement and puts a question mark in there, and plays with that. And then she goes on to ask to what degree we can examine life within the constructs of family, coupledom, children ...

It's an extremely adult drama. It's set pre-crash, and it may be all the more interesting for that. Again, it doesn't batter you over the head with it -- 'oh, we've lost our souls to materialism' -- it's more about life's necessary structures, how we keep the chaos out.

The character I play, Anne, expressly acknowledges the constructs that keep her life together. She keeps the lights on all day, every day, during winter. She has a certain amount of wine every night -- but I think she has more than that, if you know what I mean! She talks about her life as a simple police state where "rules is rules". When she wakes up she decides what time she's going to bed. I've started doing that!

I've seen all of Marina's work, and it's beyond wonderful to be involved at the coal face. It's really what you do this for; as an actor, you hope you might have an opportunity like this. I'm going around, and anyone I meet, I sort of corner them in a restaurant and try to get them to come see it and tell them I'm so excited by this.

Marble runs in The Abbey Theatre until March 14th