Those theatre-goers among you will remember our review of Tales of the Blackjack, an excellent one man show performed by local actor Alex Moran. It centres around a blackjack dealer, interacting with various customers, revealing dark secrets as each character’s personal life bleeds into their gambling life.Advertisement
I caught up with Alex this afternoon, two months on from his performance at the New Continental, to discuss in depth the concepts of the show, his own motivations and what the future holds.
So Alex, what’s it like doing a one man show?
Brilliant! I think initially Richard (Holdsworth, the writer) wanted a few different actors. However we then worked on the idea of one actor playing a lot of different characters, so we went with that. I think it definitely worked well, and the full show is about an hour long with no interval.
What sort of feedback have you got?
Really good actually. We just went on BBC Radio Lancashire last week, we’ve had a few really good reviews as well. I think the best thing that’s happened is that we’re now playing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. We pitched the show and everyone seemed to really like it, so that’s great.
Is that just one show in Edinburgh?
No, it’s 26! It’s basically from start to finish. So I’ll have to erm, eat a lot to keep my energy up for each show…
You said you’re interested in solo performance, is that something you want to continue?
Yeah, I do like it. It’s not something I always want to do, it’s something new and interesting, but I would rather work with an ensemble. I’ve got a part in a production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in October, as Billy Bibbit, which is completely different from what I’m doing with Blackjack.
What’s it like carrying a show on your own? Is it hard not being able to play off other actors?
I think it’s storytelling more than anything else. I mean it’s also working on accents, (suddenly goes into a thick Glaswegian dialect), one character kinda speaks like this, but then that’s very different to Mary, who speaks a bit like this (into Scouse), and then you have Mr Chang (effortlessly switches to a broad New York accent). They’re all completely different voice-wise, so it’s easy for the audience to understand when I’ve changed character. I play off the audience quite a lot, they almost become another character, as well as the blackjack table itself.
So is it hard to switch between roles?
I think I try to make the physicality of each character stand out as well. It’s really hard playing a woman, really difficult. Sometimes the switches between character are straight away (clicks fingers in rapid succession). It’s hard but I’ve just got to try and paint a picture for the audience.
So you need a lot of energy to pull off a role like this?
There is a lot of energy about it, I think sometimes I need to slow down! I don’t think I did that for the first night at the Continental. I think that’s the one thing I bear in mind from now on, to take my time…
Moving away from Tales from the Blackjack for a moment, how did you get started with acting in Preston?
Through university mainly. I studied acting at UCLan, and that just sparked my interest to seeing what was out there on the acting and creative front. It’s also so good to be involved at a grassroots level, to start in a tiny pub, with more or less no lighting and a small stage, and then eventually to continue it to a bigger venue and professional level.
That for me is the best thing about the Tringe, it’s a starting block for so many actors who then go on and develop afterwards, I really love that.
So you played last year’s Tringe, and then you’re going to the Lowry in a few weeks. Any plans to come back to Preston?
Maybe, I’m not sure when that would be though. I’m trying to do a play called Boys’ Life after I finish with Cuckoo’s Nest, so maybe do that as a preview in Preston next year, then hopefully take that on to the Lowry again.
Have you played the Lowry before?
No, I haven’t. It’ll be the biggest venue I’ve performed in so far. It’s a great space, the studio space is brilliant. We’ve got an opportunity to go in there next week to rehearse, so constant rehearsals from next Monday til the show starts, to iron everything out!
So, where can we get tickets?
Well, tickets on the Saturday night are £7.50, £10 on the door. If you’re a member of the Lowry you get them for £5, which is a great incentive. It’s running from the 10th – 12th June, starting at 7:45 pm. We have a press night as well, so hopefully we’ll get a lot more reviews and people showing interest from that.
Find out more about Tales from the Blackjack via their website, and book tickets at the Lowry here.