Back with jewel of a play

A new play which has been receiving rave reviews in Dublin comes to Cork this month, EMMA CONNOLLY talks to actor Cathy Belton about returning to Leeside to feature in the riveting and beautifully written production
Back with jewel of a play
Cast member of the Approach Cathy Belton. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins

CORK audiences are a sophisticated bunch, according to renowned actress Cathy Belton, who promises we’ll be both talking and thinking a lot as we’re leaving the play written especially for

when it comes Leeside.

The Approach will open in The Everyman on February 27 and run until March 3 and Cathy — now widely recognised from her role as Patricia in TV3’s Red Rock — says she’s rarely experienced this “level of excavation” by audiences after a play she’s performed in.

“It’s very dense — it should take around two and a half hours but instead it’s a beautifully written and riveting 75 minutes,” she says.

Written and directed by Marc O’Rowe, who she describes as a ‘genius,’ it’s already going down well with Dublin audiences.

Cathy will star alongside Derbhle Crotty and Aisling O’Sullivan in what was borne out of a desire by Marc to see the three renowned female stars together on stage, which Cathy says is “very flattering, a real honour”.

Described as a psychological puzzle and a quietly devastating tragedy, it’s about two sisters and a friend, Anna, Cora and Denise, all in their 40s, who have known each other since college, and it’s told through a series of conversations and silences.

“It’s three great stories told over five years,” explains Cathy, “it’s about the misuse of language; how verbal language can be both a weapon or save people. There are some huge ideas here. It’s caused a lot of great discussion about people.”

Essentially, she says, it’s about the ‘puzzle that’s life’ and will appeal to anyone who cares about people and who cares about living. It’s a jewel of a play.”

The Galway-born actress hasn’t performed in Cork “in years” but says she’s very excited to be back.

The Evening Echo caught up with her between rehearsals after the Dublin opening and she seemed enthused about spending time here — softly spoken but with lots to say, she’s looking forward to her stint in the Everyman.

“The last time I was on stage there with The Abbey’s Plough And The Stars in the Opera House.

“I’m very excited to be coming back. I did film a short film On The Hemline in Cork last summer. It was lovely to get to spend some time there.”

Red Rock is now well into its third season, making Cathy somewhat of a household name and face as she plays the fierce businesswoman Patricia Hennessy. But she insists she’s nothing like her character in the police soap.

Aisling O’Sullivan, Cathy Belton and Derbhle Crotty, of The Approach. Picture: Leah Farrell /
Aisling O’Sullivan, Cathy Belton and Derbhle Crotty, of The Approach. Picture: Leah Farrell /

“I suppose we both are strong women and family does mean everything to me like it does to her, but I won’t go to the depths Patrica goes to for a deal!”

Cathy said there’s a real sense of family among the Red Rock team as they all started out together.

“This is our third series so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next —it’s with the powers-that-be. I haven’t heard anything.”

And unlike Red Rock’s Denise McCormack, who has recently popped up in EastEnders, Cathy has no such aspirations.

“I’m steeped in theatre,” she says, and admits she’s been lucky with the work that’s come her way of late.

Far from warning young people off the unpredictable life of an actor, she advises anyone who wants to work in the industry to ‘follow their bliss’,

“There’s nothing like it. If you do what you love, you’ll work your hardest and the pay-off will be a billion times more.”

She says she has gone past the stage- fright stage but still gets ‘those lovely butterflies’ waiting to go on stage when the lights go down.

“I enjoy that — if they’re gone than there’s something wrong.”

As well as the successful Red Rock, her other recent projects have included Alison Spittle’s RTÉ’s series Nowhere Fast and she will soon appear in in the new BBC1 TV series The Woman In White. “It comes in waves but I’ve been very lucky,” she said.

On top of all that, she’s preparing for another important role this summer — when she says ‘I do’ to her fiancé Brian next July.

“He’s a Meath man and has nothing at all to do with the business. We want to give everyone a holiday so will be doing it all abroad,” she says, her voice lighting up.

What a great approach indeed.

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