Dublin Fringe preview:  Christiane O Mahony writes for Culture about her new show, a 'surreal underwater experience about trying to be grown-up and wishing you were a seahorse'. 

I’m wandering around the park talking to myself again. It is the end of our first week of rehearsals for Seahorse and I am learning my lines.

Why did I write so many lines for myself in this goddam play? The role of Stage Manager is played by my Samsung Galaxy S 7 (our lovely Stage Manager Sadhbh does not have to follow me around parks on Saturdays). I record my lines and listen back afterwards to check them. I find learning lines hellish. You would think it is easy when I've written them myself. Committing them precisely to memory is tedious and my brain keeps wandering. It is my least favourite part of the process but I can't wait to get them learnt so I can play the part.

Even though I will be the only performer on stage for Seahorse, there is a team of around 10 amazing people working on it. My very talented partner Brian Mitchell has designed the set, an aquarium, and we are working with the wonderful animator and videographer, Janet Grainger, to create the marine world.

It is a play about womanhood, a relationship, sex, family and the tragedy of not living up to your own expectations. It is funny in it’s way of telling, but at it’s heart it is quite serious.

I can’t believe we are finally here - in rehearsals at the Project Arts Centre’s Cube performance space. This first week has involved a lot of atomic detail. Working on the text, word by word, then scrutinising our poster graphics - ‘Do we like that S? Would a bolder one be better? Maybe a more distinctive one?' - then looking at our animations - 'Could that animation move slower? Would that be more effective?' Then checking ‘Have I filled out all the forms now for the Arts Council funding? Do I have everyone’s contract? Have I your IBAN? Yes I’ll have coffee, no wait that is my fourth this morning...

I have to remind myself to take a pause to enjoy this part and not get swallowed up by it. This project has been two years in the making. I had the idea for Seahorse when I was off stage during a matinee performance of a show I was in at The Abbey Theatre a few years ago. I brought it to LA with me that summer where I was training in improv, I brought it home again and when I was lucky enough to get an Arts Council award to write it, and developed the work with theatremaker Veronica Coburn, whose grounded brilliance and generosity enabled me to fully realise the project. Through all of this, I was talking to Brian about it, and his designer brain kicked into action. What we have come up with is as much about the design he has conceived as the script that I have written. I feel lucky that we get to do this together.

I have been waiting a very long time to get cast in an interesting female role and in the end, I decided to have a crack at writing one for myself.

In some ways, this is the best part - the creating bit. We have been writing, designing, talking, planning for months, and now all those strands are coming together. It is ours and no one else’s. There is almost an intimacy to that. When it premieres it will be everyone’s, but for now we can enjoy it.

The play is about a woman, Mara, who has an existential crisis in an aquarium in the middle of the night. She starts to fantasise about being a seahorse, a species whose male gives birth, and imagining the freedom that life would give her. It is a surreal dark comedy.

It is a play about womanhood, a relationship, sex, family and the tragedy of not living up to your own expectations. It is funny in it’s way of telling, but at it’s heart it is quite serious.

Mara is a funny, flawed character, selfish, hedonistic, awkward. I am having a lot of fun playing her.

I have been waiting a very long time to get cast in an interesting female role and in the end, I decided to have a crack at writing one for myself. Like Mara, I, the actor and playwright, am trying not to get to caught up in expectations. Will the critics like my play? Will people laugh? There are a lot of swear words... Mam might regret bringing the neighbours. Yes I will have another coffee. My fifth, is it? Ah well…

Seahorse, conceived and Written by Christiane O Mahony and directed by Davey Kelleher, is at Project Arts Centre, Dublin from Tuesday 18 - Saturday 22 September - more details here