Seána Kerslake is a rising star of Irish acting. Her leading role in A Date For Mad Mary has brought her to national and international attention and the 25-year-old Dubliner is about to light up the small screen in the new RTE comedy-drama Can’t Cope Won’t Cope. “It’s about two girls from Cork living up in Dublin. Living for the weekend, having not much responsibilities, just having a good time. My character Aisling has a pretty good job which finds her other lifestyle.”

Seána Kerslake

Can’t Cope Won’t Cope starts on RTE2 on Monday and is showcasing at Irish Screen America  in LA. “It’s mainly about the two girl’s relationship and that is similar in that sense to A Date For Mad Mary. It is about friendship and how dependent you can be on a friend growing up. Trying to find out who you are. It’s two best friends and their relationship over the course of the series spirals out of control.”

Kerslake’s Dublin roots are immediately apparent on meeting her so it was a challenge to pass herself off as a native of the People’s Republic. “What was good about it is that Stefanie Preissner, who wrote it, is from just outside Cork city. It was quite handy in the read-through. I could pick up everything and hear it correctly. And when we were on set there were a couple of people from Cork. So I did say to them in the beginning that if anything sounds wrong, to let me know. I had to do ADR on little bits and pieces of the show and I didn’t have to rerecord the whole show, so that’s a positive sign.”

As anyone who watched Sons Of Anarchy‘s adventures in Belfast will be aware, a bad accent can ruin a show. “It does take you out of the story. People do focus on accents. When we’re watching American shows or English films the accents could be from anywhere and a lot of the time you don’t even realise it. But because this is a homegrown drama you’re going to have people notice and pick up on it more.”

Kerslake is well aware of the scrutiny accents come under after her appearance in this year’s hit movie A Date For Mad Mary. “That was set in Drogheda but we all have kind of Dublin accents. A lot of people have pointed that out but when we were recording in Drogheda a lot of people do have Dublin accents there. It’s in the commuter belt. Darren and Colin who made it are from Drogheda and they have a soft Dublin accent.”

“It’s something that people from Drogheda were fine with, that we didn’t have authentic old-school Drogheda accents. The accent has evolved a lot. It was something we focused on though. It was important to me because if you’re representing a place you want to do that place justice. And similarly in Can’t Cope Won’t Cope we want to do those people justice too. It was important for us, in building the characters and their back stories, in understanding why they do sound like that.”

A Date For Mad Mary is still in cinemas and is going to BFI film festival in London. Mary is a very intense character. Kerslake sees her Can’t Cope Won’t Cope role in a lighter vein. “In a way they are similar because they both have very similar coping mechanisms. They rely a lot on drink. But Mary is very confrontational whereas Aisling is very passive-aggressive. She’ll make a comment about you but “Oh no, it’s fine!”, using her humour to get away with things. She’s a lot more flirty. Mary wouldn’t be flirty at all, her default is aggression where with Aisling it’s humour.”

“With A Date For Mad Mary I threw myself into Mary’s character but it was a weird headspace to have to live with. I would be in public and try to keep in mind “How would Mary react to this situation?”. But a lot of the time it would end up in a fight but that can’t happen so I have to switch that off and say “This is the path she would take but I’m not going to do that right now.”

“The amount of work you do correlates with what the character wound do also. Some characters would write a lot while other characters wouldn’t write so you don’t write. Music is a great way to enter a character. The music they listen to, the places they hang out. For both characters it was very social settings, nights out and things like that. And then what they are like when they are on their own. If they can be on their own.”

Despite her success on screen, Kerslake hasn’t left the theatre behind. She can be seen in From Eden. “It is directed by Karl Shiels and written by Stephen jones, who won an award for it as well. It always helps when you have such great writing which I’ve been very lucky with. With A Date For Mad Mary, Can’t Cope Won’t Cope and the play, the writing has been brilliant. We did it for Electric Picnic. I’m back with that for Culture Night in Dun Laoghaire, in the Pavilion. I’ve just been told that’s sold out. Then we’re back in November in the Viking in Clontarf and in Waterford at Garter Lane with it as well.”

Can’t Cope Won’t Cope starts on RTE2 on Monday 19th Sept at 2200.