Domhnall Gleeson Feels That Crackle in the Air

Tell me about the plays you and Enda Walsh have written together. Just who are they?

It wasn’t until I saw “The Walworth Farce” that I really began to grasp Enda’s character and motivations. Which I happened to see in a cramped Galway hotel room a few years ago. It blew my mind in a completely new way. When I saw it, I was stunned to the core.

A father and his two sons are compelled to perform this farce daily by their father. As a result, we’re seeing a day when the farce crumbles. They’ve been performing this farce for at least 15 or 20 years when this newcomer enters the fray, and everything goes off the rails. I was shaken to my core when I walked out the door. I’d laughed a lot, but I’d also never fully cried—like, just wept, twice.

You’d never cried so hard in a movie theatre before?

No. Perhaps I’d shed a few tears before, but nothing like this. You weren’t all agog and teary-eyed; you were just as engaged as ever. And my reaction was, “I have no idea what’s going on.” Enda’s ability to elicit an emotional response from me that I cannot predict is one of the many reasons I adore him.

What do you tell people when they ask you what “Medicine” is all about?

Part of the play deals with how we view people who are deemed to be mentally ill. And the importance of empathy, as well as the role of medicine, both good and bad, in that. That’s what I believe it’s all about. But that isn’t made clear at the outset.

The lobster costume, in particular, serves as a diversion.

Yeah, I’m aware of that.

It is John’s dream to be completely obliterated. Is it possible for you to go out into the community and pass as a regular person, unnoticed by others?

It’s possible to have days where you feel a lot less connected to the world around you. Being so close to the theatre and being able to take in the New York skyline and all its splendour is an incredible experience. You can walk around and feel like you’re just a part of the scenery. That’s so cool. It brings back memories of when I was just 22 years old and makes me feel like a kid again. I’m a big fan of soaking up the energy from the crowd and the cold air. On other days, you may feel a little self-conscious and wonder if anyone has recognised you.