Oscar-winning director Martin McDonagh delighted the Gaiety cast of The Lieutenant Of Inishmore by turning up at one of their rehearsals.
The actors, preparing the play for its opening in the Dublin theatre later this month, said they were thrilled when they were told the London-based film-maker, who wrote the play, would be popping in.
"We knew he was coming so of course we were nervous," said Aisling Kearns (24), who plays Mairead.
"We were all kind of like, 'Oh my God, he's actually coming in.'
"But from the minute he arrived he was very relaxed and that relaxed us, and we could get over the fact he was there and talk to him about the play and get as much information as we needed out of him, so it was brilliant.
"It was in the second or third week of rehearsals so it was early days and he came in for a few hours.
"He was a pure gent. He was very genuine and completely down to earth which was great.
"He has done such phenomenal work but he was very sound and normal and brought us all back down to earth so we could really get into the play. He was lovely.
"We did some scenes for him but it was only at the beginning so it was fairly bare. Then we chatted about it and he was very open. He said it could be done either this way or that way but either one of them works.
"He wasn't very strict saying, 'It has to be done like this'. He gave us room to breathe and play a bit which was so great."
However, the In Bruges director - who won universal acclaim for the 2018 movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and a best short film Oscar for Six Shooter in 2005 - did tell them to play the characters for real rather than for laughs.
The Lieutenant Of Inishmore is a black comedy about a west of Ireland INLA man, Mad Padraic, who is on a bombing campaign in the North but returns home when his beloved cat is killed, swearing revenge on whoever is responsible.
The Lieutenant Of Inishmore runs at Dublin's Gaiety Theatre from January 27 to March 14