Moone Boy’s Fidelma on tackling women’s issues through comedy

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Actress Clare Monnelly is widely known as Fidelma from Moone Boy, but she is expanding her horizons to more comedy. While staying hopeful of a Moone Boy movie, the actress most recently starred in a play inspired by Jennifer Anniston’s nipples.

The twenty-eight year-old Dubliner says the idea for her latest project, Harder Faster More, came about from a conversation she had with co-star Aoibheann McCann and the writer of the play, Tracy Martin. Martin pointed out the prevalence of Anniston’s nipples on screen in Friends and the play was born.

“If you watch some of the episodes back you can nearly always see Jennifer Anniston’s nipples. We started to wonder about the kind of conversation that would’ve been had about that. Was it Anniston’s idea? Did she want that or was it a producer’s suggestion? Or maybe it came from her manager? Tracy was intrigued by it and we started talking about women’s sexuality and how women are portrayed in the media so that’s where the whole idea of Harder Faster More came from.”

Together with co-stars McCann and Charleen Gleeson, the play focuses on scenarios young women might find themselves in through comedy, while addressing the issue of how women are portrayed in a world where sex sells. Monnelly says it’s a lot of hard work to take on a production like this. “One of my characters is a young girl from Dublin who thinks she’s going to work as a dancer, but she finds herself stripping and things get a little out of hand. I also play the agent of a UK TV star who has been sacked because she was too old for the job and another one of my characters is a costume designer who has been asked to develop her costumes in a particular way so there would be more flesh on show. There are definitely big issues in there but it’s also really funny at the same time.”

Her latest play, which had a strong run at the 2015 festival at Smock Alley Theatre, couldn’t be more different from the popular Sky One series, which led Monnelly to working with Deirdre O’Kane and Chris O’Dowd. “It’s a million miles from Fidelma but I think it’s every actor’s dream to constantly be pushed and not be pigeon-holed. I’ll go wherever the work takes me, I’m not stuck in Dublin but I’d love to travel somewhere else to work in the future. I’m a strong Irish speaker and I’d love to do more work where I use my Irish. Unfortunately there’s such a small amount of people to choose from if you want someone who can speak Irish, but I’d absolutely like to do something through Irish.”

On the prospect of a Moone Boy movie, Monnelly says the cast is hopeful that it will happen. “I know Sky would be interested in it happening but Chris is super busy and I know Nick is writing a lot so it’s really just a matter of timing. I know that everyone involved would be happy to go back and do more of Moone Boy. We became like family and we had the best craic with the kids; they had boundless energy and never winged or moaned, no matter what time they had to be dragged out of bed at to go to set.”

Monnelly has worked with her fiancé Aaron Monaghan on occasion but she says they’re not Ireland’s answer to Brangelina. “We’ll probably work together again at some time in the future but he’s a very busy man. We didn’t kill each other last time.” The couple currently have not set a date for their wedding but she says “we’ll get around to it.”