By Orla O'Sullivan
Aedín Moloney, who wonders why she always gets cast as "tough" women, ends an interview recounting how she ran off two men attempting to break into her apartment during Hurricane Sandy – all the slight 5'1" of her. This while her boyfriend was in the bathroom, disturbed by Moloney arising during the night to investigate noise she heard from the fire escape.
"I'm really a big softie," said the self-described "character actor" and founder of Fallen Angel Theatre Company.
Moloney gets to show both facets in Fallen Angel's latest and arguably highest profile play, "Airswimming"— the first co-produced with the Irish Repertory Theatre.
The play by British playwright Charlotte Jones falls within Fallen Angel's remit of showcasing works by Irish and British women.
More than that, it is particularly appropriate for Fallen Angel in that it is about the institutions for "fallen" women where, for much of the last century, women who had children without being married were locked away for life.
Ten years in the offing, the play helps to mark Fallen Angels 10th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of The Rep. Director John Keating-a close friend of Moloney's since they worked together on her first play in New York, "Barry And Ger," at the Irish Arts Center in 1998-suggested "Airswimming" to Moloney in 2003.
Various delays ensued, she said, not least finding just the right actor to play opposite her. "In a two-hander, the actors are very important."
When she encountered Rachel Pickup (Agnes) in the Rep's 2011 revival of "Dancing At Lughnasa," Moloney knew she had found her other half.
Moloney's Lughnasa role as Rose gave her the "sweeter, softer" type of character she'd love to play more of, she said. Crediting Charlotte Moore Rep co-founder and director of that play, Moloney said, "She always sees the range."
It's a "great honor" to have people of the caliber of Moore and the Rep.'s other co-founder, Ciarán O'Reilly collaborate with her company, she added.
Fundraising is a big part of Moloney's job in Fallen Angel. So how does a "primarily shy" person raise the funds to produce a play? "You beg!" she answered.
To date, Fallen Angel has managed to produce one play a year, but Moloney hopes to double that, perhaps starting this year, with a show during the Holidays.
Meanwhile, in April, Moloney plans to release a recording of her signature Molly Bloom soliloquy, which she regularly performs in New York during Bloomsday celebrations.
It will feature music by her father, Paddy Moloney, founder of the Chieftains. (The daughter bears a resemblance to the traditional music giant and both exude the same warmth.)
Collaboration is very much part of Moloney's M.O. Despite its focus on Irish and British plays, 60 percent of its audience is Hispanic and African American, in part because of Fallen Angel’s work with community groups that tackle the kinds of issues raised in the plays-such as female incarceration in "Cell," its 2009 production of Paula Meehan's play. But the Molly Bloom recording was the first time Moloney worked with her dad. And how old is he now? "Early seventies? He'll kill me if I get it wrong!" she replied with a laugh. (The great musician is 74.)
Mistakes she does not take lightly. She comes to our meeting during previews, too sick with nerves to eat. "I don't want to mess up," she said, "especially for my fellow actors."