TALKING TO MARK BENTON
In a tale of real estate savagery, the award-winning production of Glengarry Glen Ross comes to Woking’s New Victoria Theatre this February. We caught up with actor Mark Benton mid-rehearsals to talk touring, estate agents and more….
FOLLOWING ITS RUN IN THE WEST END, THE UK TOUR OF GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS OPEN IN WOKING THIS FEBRUARY – EXCITED TO GET THE SHOW ON THE ROAD?
Yeah really excited we’ve been through rehearsals and we’re just getting up on our feet so it’s quite messy as it always is, but it’s great. David Mamet is such a fantastic writer that you just literally have to say the words and hopefully, it’ll come out right.
FOR THOSE THAT MAY NOT KNOW, CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE SHOW?
It’s about real estate and there’s a competition in the office. Whoever wins gets a Cadillac and whoever loses is out, so the pressure is on. If I say it’s about estate agents it doesn’t make it sound very exciting, does it? But the pressure is really high because as I said someone’s going to get the sack so it’s quite exciting hopefully. The play goes like a steam train and when we start I think the audience will find it really exciting.
YOU PLAY THE CHARACTER SHELLY ‘THE MACHINE’ LEVENE AS PLAYED BY JACK LEMMON IN THE 1992 FILM. CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR ROLE?
Shelley is a guy passed his best who is desperately trying to get back to his glory days. He’s got a daughter who he supports and hasn’t made any sales for a long time so he really needs to make money. He lives in a cutthroat world so he’s struggling.
He then makes a big sale and you see the old Shelley come back to life. He’s a great character because he basically goes through all the emotions. He has this relationship with Roma, who’s played by Al Pacino in the film and played by Nigel Harman (EastEnders) in this production, and they have a good relationship because Roma has been taught by Shelley, but unfortunately Shelley ‘the machine’ Levene is passed his best, which is quite sad to see really.
WHAT KIND OF SALESMAN DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD MAKE? COULD YOU CUT THE CUT-THROAT ENVIRONMENT OF GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS?
No, I don’t think so. As an actor, we’re all selling ourselves all the time. I’d be hopeless as a real estate seller – I’d be at the bottom of the board and be sacked straight away. I don’t think I have that pushy streak that you need.
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH REAL ESTATE AGENTS AND HOUSING?
My experience is that they usually wear really good suits and highly polished pointy shoes. I think the best estate agents are the ones that sell you something and make you want something without realising that you wanted it. The pushier ones are the ones that I don’t get on with that I can’t be bothered with – when you’ve been to see a house and you’re getting a phone call 2 seconds later asking what you think – for me personally I always think it’s too much.
THE SHOW OPENS IN WOKING, SURREY…HAVE YOU SPENT MUCH TIME IN THE COUNTY BEFORE?
I’ve not been to Woking before, but I’m looking forward to it. We’ll all be nervous wrecks walking the streets of Woking before the show trying to get our heads together as is the way with actors. I’m really looking forward to it and apparently, the theatre is lovely.
Direct from the West End, the UK tour of David Mamet’s prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross open’s at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre from February 14 – 16.
For more information and tickets, visit www.atgtickets.com