Love/Hate actress Mary Murray stars in the upcoming one woman show No Smoke Without Fire at The Civic. We chatted to her in advance of her show on the 18th November.

How did you get into acting and what’s your first memory of wanting to act and perform?
At age 5 I entered a local talent contest reciting a funny poem. My mother told me to speak as loud as I could and not to laugh even if the audience did so. I managed to say the poem in it’s entirety and I fell in love with the sound of laughter and applause. This is where I caught the bug. I was placed third and presented with a trophy. I thought I was the bees knees because I made it all the way to the final and I even beat my older brothers who were competing against me. I looked up to them, I always wanted to be as fast or as big or as skilled as they were but I was a “girl” and I had some growing up to do. However, the fact that I outclassed them in this particular area gave me a huge sense of pride and self worth.

Has being from Ballyfermot influenced your career at all?
Definitely. Ballyfermot library was a great place for kids to hang out. I was there quite a lot but I don’t think I ever borrowed one book in all those years. There was always plenty of opportunities to get involved in in talent contests, plays or creating little performance pieces during the summer months. The staff were so attentive to children. I’ve never really thought about that until now. I even wrote and directed a comedy version of Snow White with a cast of about seven kids when I was around twelve years old and they were very supportive. It sounds more impressive than it was, only the other kids who were hanging around the library attended but it gave me the confidence to know that anything was possible.

Which famous actors or directors do you admire? Why?
Jack Nicholson is top of my list. He’s so charismatic and his delivery always carries so much weight. He never wastes a word. Actors will always bring their own personalities to a piece and it’s always a joy to see the variation on offer but it’s impossible to pick up a script that you’ve seen Jack Nicholson perform and put your own slant on it, his delivery will always be etched in your memory. I also think Cate Blanchett and Meryl Streep are phenomenal actresses. And of course there’s the standards that everyone agrees with; Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Daniel Day Lewis. They never put a foot wrong.

Can you describe your new show ‘No Smoke Without Fire’ and let audiences know what they can expect?
It’s a comedy. It’s just one hour long and I play seven characters who meet in the smoking area of a Dublin pub soon after Micheal Martin’s introduction of the smoking ban in Ireland. Two well known hoodlums were recently arrested for stealing €60,000 from the local post office and the money has yet to be recovered. As the play progresses the audience are introduced to a myriad of personalities from all walks of life who’s stories intertwine. The location of the missing loot will soon be discovered. There’s quite a few individuals who could do with the extra few bob, but the question is who will get their hands on it and how will they do it without arousing suspicion.

There are multiple characters in the play. Is it very challenging to move between them and remember all your lines?
Of course, it’s a huge challenge initially. You’ve nobody else to rely on but yourself. There’s always the thought at the back of your mind that if you screw up your career will be over. That said, there’s no comparison to the satisfaction of knowing that you have an audience watching you with baited breath. When you feel them hanging on your every word and laughing uncontrollably you know that this is where you were destined to be. Obviously it takes a great deal of preparation to get to that point but at this stage the play has been tried tested and tweaked so my only real fear is that there won’t be an audience.

This play is a family affair – it was written by your father. Is this the first time you have worked together on a project?
We wrote our first play together about eight years ago called ‘Sister’ and we staged it for three weeks at the International Bar. It was very difficult to get reviewers to come see it at the time. The feedback from audiences was a great boost and people still talk about it to this day but without the reviews it was difficult to imagine taking it any further given the fact that we were the ones bankrolling it. It was a Godsend really because the more experienced we became the more we realised that the play needed redrafting. In the meantime my dad began writing a novel based on this particular play. It’s an ambition of mine to perform it in New York but there’s still some alterations required. When the time is right ‘Sister’ will come to the fore and hopefully the novel will be completed by then to coincide with the staged performance, but until then, I think it’s so important to take advantage of the publicity around Love/Hate to draw attention to my dad’s other writing and create the opportunities to have his work seen and reviewed. I’ve had the good fortune to work on numerous occasions alongside very established playwrights teasing out new material and though it’s always been a delightful experience I’ve never had as much fun as I have performing my dads words. I’m very excited about the future of Paddy Murray and I’m so lucky to be the original performer.

You are very well known for playing Janet in Love/Hate TV series. Do you ever watch the show yourself?
Yes, every Sunday without fail. I prefer to view it alone so that I don’t have people commenting or judging. I want to be a spectator just like the rest of the nation. I want to concentrate on the story and not just my own performance. The show is an ensemble piece and without the incredible direction, writing, casting, lighting, sound, music, editing, make up, costumes and so on, it wouldn’t be the success it is today. The actors gain the notoriety but the show requires all of those essential ingredients to create the magic and when I sit down on a Sunday evening I’m expecting to see the magic show.

If you could play any other role on any other show, what would it be?
I would love a role in Orange Is The New Black. The female characters in that show are incredible. The actresses are amazing and to be counted amongst them would be such an honour.

What was the last TV show you binge-watched? How many episodes did you see in a sitting?
Orange Is The New Black. I watched the entire second series over one week. That’s binge watching as far as I’m concerned. To be honest, I hardly get a chance to watch television. Generally one hour every night is as much as I watch. After an hour my brain switches off, my eyelids drop and I’m unconscious. I usually wake up about an hour or two later and go to bed.

No Smoke Without Fire comes to The Civic from Tuesday, 18th – Saturday, 22nd November 2014. Tickets are on sale now! Phone our box office on 01 4627477 or book online here.