Sugarglass Theatre‘s last show was the sprawling, immersive, three-hour long All Hell Lay Beneath. Based on Herman Hesse’s novel Steppenwolf, it was part of this year’s Dublin Fringe Festival. It played to sold-out audiences and was nominated for ‘Best Off-Site Performance’ as well as the ‘Spirit of the Fringe’ award. Sugarglass return to the Dublin stage later this month with Tender Napalm by Philip Ridley. This is a play about love and intimacy and the devastating affect they can have on people.
I spoke to Erica Murphy, who plays Woman, about the challenges and rewards that this play offers. Erica spent the summer performing The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle, first at the Edinburgh Fringe and then as part of the Absolut Fringe in Dublin. The show was very well received in Edinburgh and was one of the many sold-out shows of the Dublin Fringe. Erica herself was nominated for a Best Actress award at the Absolut Fringe Awards. She was delighted with the nomination and says that two months later, it still hasn’t really sunk in.
Erica describes Tender Napalm as “an abstract play, about the relationship between two people, encompassing their entire relationship.” It also deals with grief and sadness and the fact that they have fallen out of love with each other. Talking about her first encounter with the play, Erica says “the script is a mountain. Reading it for the first time, I didn’t know what to make of it.” When she started studying it she really fell in love with the writing, particularly the fact that not everything is spelt out for the audience. With only two actors on stage (the role of Man is played by Aaron Heffernan, currently in The Picture of Dorian Grey at the Abbey), they both have a lot of responsibility to the script and to each other. It’s a challenge that Erica really seems to relish!
Erica’s first experience on stage was when “a wonderful woman took a chance on me and gave me a part is the school musical.” Even though she’s not particularly interested in musical theatre now, this was the beginning of her interest in performance. Erica is currently in her final year at Trinity College Dublin where she’s studying for a BA in Drama and Theatre Studies. She is very enthusiastic about Dublin because she says “it’s a very exciting place for theatre, there are a lot of great directors working in Dublin and so much original drama being produced.” She is a fan of new writing, particularly Irish playwrights such as Marina Carr, Mark O’Rowe and Enda Walsh. She says that someday she would to like to be listed as an original cast member in the published script of a brand new play.
Tender Napalm is a dark play, that’s maybe not for everybody. As Erica says “it’s not one I’ll invite my granny too.” However, if you like dark, funny plays that are both moving and engaging, go see it.
Tender Napalm is on at the Project Arts Centre from November 27 to December 8. Tickets for the preview on November 27 are two for one and if you book before November 20, you will get 25% off your ticket price so book now!