The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle: An Interview with Rachel Gleeson

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The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle

After two very successful runs at the Dublin Fringe Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe this summer, and a nomination for Best Play in the Irish Theatre Awards at the weekend, The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle begins a two week run in Smock Alley this week.

I recently spoke to Rachel Gleeson, one of the eight ensemble cast members, about the play. Rachel describes the play as “a moving piece of theatre that is sentimental without being overly sweet.” It examines regrets and what you can get out of life, as a group of twenty-somethings assess a man’s life.

Rachel, who is rehearsing the play for the third time, says that there are still new things to discover in the text and there are still revelations everyday in rehearsals. This is a credit to what Rachel describes as a “dense script” by Ross Dungan, which has lots to offer both the actors and the audience. There have been cast changes each time the play has been produced, and bringing in new cast members has brought a different energy to the show each time. Everyone has their own reactions to the script and each time they start to rehearse the play, director Dan Herd encourages the cast to approach it as if it is a new show. He is working with the actors that he has in the room to produce something fresh each time.

Rachel studied drama at Trinity College, and feels that this was an excellent education for her because it exposed her to loads of different aspects of theatre. Her involvement with Players directly led to this show. The production company 15th Oak are a group of people who have known each other for a long time and have worked together before. The result of this is a strong and supportive group.

Rachel describes The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle as an epic show that really touches people. The reactions from the audience in Edinburgh were particularly emotional. However there are also funny moments in the script, which is very active and demands a lot from its ensemble cast. Talking to Rachel it is obvious that she really enjoys working on this play and is looking forward to performing it in Dublin and taking it to the Soho Theatre in London next April. It sounds like a very enjoyable night of theatre from an audience’s point of view as well. It will be on in Smock Alley, 14 – 26 January at 7.30pm. Tickets are available here.

There’s also a post show discussion on Tuesday 22 January called Bringing a show to Edinburgh and beyond. It will be moderated by Peter Crawley, with Róise Goan (Fringe Festival), Ross Dungan (15th Oak) , Jim Culleton (Fishamble: The New Play Company) and Theatre Lovett talking about the opportunities and the pitfalls of making work to go on the road.

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