Best piece of advice? Put it behind you
In conversation: Actors and friends, on-stage and off, Isobel Mahon and Maria McDermottroe
Isobel Mahon (left) and Maria McDermottroe
When did you last cry?
Maria: This morning. Whatever show I was listening to on radio – I think it was Sean O’Rourke – they had a singer on and he sang The West’s Awake. It reminded me so much of my mother. A couple of jars on her and she’d launch into it. I had a tenor sing it at her funeral. She came right back to me. I could hear her.
Isobel: Do you know what? I’m not a great crier. I cry from stress. I get overwhelmed from anxiety.
If you could only read one book for the rest of your days, what would that be?
Maria: I’d take Mindfulness.
Isobel: There’s stuff coming at you all the time in our business.
Maria: You need to know how to stop.
What did you learn from a parent?
Maria: It’s infinite.
Isobel: My dad died when I was nine, that’s probably why I’m a bit of an anxious bunny. The whole world fell apart very suddenly. He had this integrity about him. He was very old fashioned, he had these little expressions. He had a work ethic, that you make an effort and you put in the hours, the old Protestant work ethic.
What sweet reminds you of childhood?
Maria: Fruit gums
Isobel: Cadbury’s fruit and nut.
What is your favourite item of clothing?
Maria: Black leggings, hides a multitude.
Isobel: I have a pair of over-the-knee black boots. Once you wear thick enough tights you can get away with a lot.
At what point in your life were you in the most physical pain?
Isobel: Last week my tooth went. The nerve. Ah!
Maria: Delivering my eldest girl without an epidural. I bit the midwife’s hand so much that she cried. Next time, I got an epidural.
What would be your death-row meal?
Maria: It would have to be really fattening. Fish and chips with mushy peas, pork with all the crackling, roast duck – do you see where I’m going here? Potatoes with butter. No holds barred. I’m not mad on desserts, but a very rich cheese. I’d die from a heart attack.
Isobel: You’d sizzle! I’m very fond of prawns, but you know the way they only give you a few prawns? Feck that. I’d have lobster. Then chocolate pavlova with cream and strawberries, that’s what my mum used to make us for birthdays. She’d never get it off the greaseproof so it would be in shite, basically like Eton mess. Homemade meringue, not the shrapnel you get in shops.
Is there any motto or mantra that comes into your head when things are getting tough?
Maria: Calm down.
Isobel: I do my Buddhist mantra which is ‘Nam-myoho-renge-kyo’. Mary McEvoy had me doing that during Glenroe all the time.
What is your favourite destination to visit?
Maria: Rome. The whole city is magnificent.
Isobel: South of France, they have this weird little microclimate, warm and balmy, lovely fresh air.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Isobel: That it’ll be all right.
Maria: Put it behind you.
Isobel: Also, I don’t know how to put this into words, but when you let go of needing to win and needing to be right? Let go of that one, and just let what’s best in the situation emerge. Let go of your ego’s need to make it the way you’d like it to be.
Maria: Which is a very young person’s thing – ‘I have to be tops of that, I have to do this, I have to shine’. Actually, you don’t and it doesn’t matter.
Isobel: Funnily enough, that usually lets the best out.
What’s your favourite television show?
Maria: I really have appalling taste. I’m watching a thing at the moment called Major Crimes. I just love it. I have discovered there is a series called The Closer, which was made with the same characters, so I now have all of The Closer to watch! I’m in heaven.
Isobel: You like crimes and royalty. I like Game Of Thrones. I also love Say Yes To The Dress. I’ve never been married but I have an obsession with other women trying on clothes.
Maria: I like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Isobel: Girls, that particular sense of humour.
Maria: Crufts! If Crufts was on I’d watch everything. I cry.
Isobel Mahon and Maria McDermottroe star in BOOM? at the Gaiety Theatre 26th-31st March, gaietytheatre.ie