Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Roller Coaster to Dublin

There are lots of great reasons for going to Dublin - wonderful, friendly people, joke-cracking taxi drivers (blond jokes all the way from the city centre to the airport), great pubs, fabulous restaurants, concerts, rugby, shopping ...and obviously a pint or three of the black stuff. But when we started coming to Dublin about fifteen years ago, I never expected to be putting a trip to the theatre to see an Irish political play at the top of the list. But life is full of surprises and is all the better for it.

Number 1 daughter's acting career has been a roller coaster affair thus far. Apart from a brief appearance in a one-off comedy, she definitely started at the top with a lead role in a BBC1 serial aired at peak time alongside some of the biggest names in television drama. So far, so good. Since then, her roles have included unsuccessfully fending off aliens (death scene - not nice), playing a rather unlikely Virgin Mary in a nativity play in Shameless and a Victorian prostitute in a recent BBC docu-drama. All this is a lot for a mother to contend with and certainly not something I had imagined all those years ago when I watched my girl hop on and off stage as a boy rabbit in Toad of Toad Hall. The memory of how I used to feel watching her in school plays has stayed with me. Wanting so much for her to be brilliant and to excel at something she loved and yet feeling, when other parents congratulated me on her performance, that there was that air of 'being kind'. 

No more. I watched number 1 disappear into the role of Sarah in Brian Friel's brilliant play Translations at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin. I gripped my beloved's hand (he said painfully tightly) for the first five minutes, waiting for the consolation of having the only deaf actress in the cast as my daughter but then unconsciously found myself lost in the play, lost in the characters and the plot. The fact that one of them was my daughter became incidental. I was completely absorbed by the events unravelling on stage, forgetting the vice-like grip on my beloved's hand and just enjoying watching something vibrant and alive.

Did I want to cry? Well, of course. I am a mother first and foremost and watching my children excel is something which has a value beyond rubies. But for once I was not reduced to dribbly patheticness. Yes, welling up but I was just so involved in what I was seeing on stage that I forgot (briefly) that I am the mother of this consummate, fabulous actress who has had great reviews (from people who are not related to her in any way!). She is, that over-worked phrase, the real deal. 

Green room afterwards and yes, it is green. Lots of adrenalin-high performers and my daughter, yes, mine, was a part of it all. At home as if it were always meant to be. 

This is not to say that I didn't love her performances on television and in the short films she has made but somehow stage is terror on such a different scale. It's all happening for real, right now in front of your eyes. Even if it's done several nights in a row with a few matinees thrown in. Every performance is a perfect, one-off. When number 1 told me that Brian Friel, the playwright who is widely regarded as Ireland's greatest living writer, had come to see the play at the beginning of its run in Derry and that he had congratulated her on her interpretation, I had not properly realised what a huge compliment that was. I do now.

So now she has a few weeks left of appearing on stage - in Mold at Theatre Clwyd, King's Theatre Edinburgh and Grand Opera House, Belfast and then hopefully there will be a new acting challenge. Wouldn't Ripper Street be nice?


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