David Mamet's all male, manic and testosterone fuelled Glengarry Glen Ross enters the MTC stage later this month and it will be on fire.
Alex Dimitriades, Steve Bisley and Greg Stone head the impressive cast alongside Rodney Afif, Nick Barkla, Justin Stewart Cotta and Brett Cousins.
Mamet writes a whip cracking tale about the lives of four very desperate Chicago real estate agents who resort to lies, trickery, bribery and worse to break the 'mark' and win the prize and Brett Cousins considers himself a very lucky man to be amongst it all.
After prolific work with Red Stitch, this is Brett Cousins' debut at the MTC and he couldn't be happier. Cousins plays the hapless 'mark' James Lingk, a timid man who finds himself easily intimated by the fast talking Roma (Alex Dimitriades)
"Well… if you’re gonna debut at the MTC, Mamet is not a bad writer to have in your corner," he says. " These characters are just so entertaining and hilarious… not to mention desperate… it’s just a pleasure to be mingling with them every day and messing around rediscovering this masterpiece. The other exciting thing about working at MTC is that every week someone comes around and hands you a little envelope with a pay slip in it! That doesn’t happen quite so regularly at Red Stitch where I’ve been doing most of my theatre work. So my wife thinks it’s Christmas!"
The big MTC break came for Cousins during his work with the three-hander Out of Water at Red Stitch.
"For me, the genesis of my involvement in the project came when Janine, the head of casting at MTC came to opening night of ‘Out Of The Water’ at Red Stitch. That play was directed by Nadia Tass and written by Brooke Berman. She mentioned me to our Director Alkinos, who had seen some of my work previously. We met and chatted about the role. He came to see the play and took the audition process from there. "
Cousins has worked with Nick Barkla before who did some work at Red Stitch back in the very early days, however Cousins hasn't worked with any of the other actors in the cast. "In my career, my main focus has always been to collaborate with the best people, " he says. " So this production is a real privilege. I feel like I’m in some pretty rarefied company."
Cousins is a proud founding ensemble member of Red Stitch and in 2005 was awarded the Green Room Award for Best Actor in Independent theatre. Cousins has also more than cut his teeth on the small screen playing characters in Winners and Losers, Underbelly and City Homicide to name a few – some may remember Cousins as Ben Atkins on Neighbours. But which medium, Film or Theatre, has the winning formula for the actor Cousins.
"I played a fun role in a feature film not too long ago and it was an enormously rewarding and enjoyable creative experience. I don’t know. I love the discipline and technical proficiency involved in being able to film and TV well. It’s quite tricky to pull off. On the other hand sometimes you just want to be unshackled and cut loose on stage. The other issue… to be honest… is that if your goal is to work with the best people, a 'profile' sometimes helps in this business. If you’re doing work at a little theatre like Red Stitch, you’re work is being seen by 80 people at a time. That’s a pretty slow way to build a profile, regardless of the quality of the productions we do there. A film has the potential to exhibit your work to a larger audience… well… hopefully anyway."
Glengarry Glen Ross was written in the early '80's during the severe global recession, and is based on Mamet's personal experience in a similar office. It is a high pressure existence for these desperate men who will do whatever it takes to win the deal. The work won the Pulitzer Prize in '84 and is possibly one of Mamet's most well known plays but how will this very American tale resonate with Australian audiences. According to Cousins, Mamet explores themes that will be all to recognizable.
"Glengarry is an American tale to be sure. Is it relevant for local audiences? Hmmm… Well, it deals with the traps of capitalism, materialism, desperation, office politics and the burning desire to climb the professional ladder at any cost. Characters make promises to each other and earn trust only to completely break those promises without a second thought once they’ve got what they want or achieve some level of power. Yeah. I guess, come to think of it, Aussies haven’t really experienced any of that stuff lately… have they??"
Glengarry Glen Ross
Venue: Southbank Theatre, The Sumner
Season dates: 5 July to 9 August 2014