Didn’t actually see the play for this one! Just did the interview…
Brendan Cowell’s Men is confronting expose of what it is to be a guy, with a twist that will leave you breathless. The AU caught up with Ben O’Toole, who plays one of the “men”, to discuss the production and that confronting question.
How do you think Men creates its position as a “nerve-bending expose of what it is to be a guy”? What IS it like to be a guy?
Men does this quite simply I think by placing 3 men in a small room right before the end. The end of what…? You’ll have to come and see for yourself, but it basically explores the vast insecurities 3 very different men have, and the way they love each other, hate each other, and project their own insecurities on each other. It’s like this in every way to be a guy. Alpha male, pack mentality. Masculinity is an obscure thing, mostly obscured by dominance. When that dominance is taken away, there are some big question a guy has to ask himself, like “why should people listen to me when I speak” etc… These are confronting questions, and often not asked.
What is your character like? Do you think you’re similar to him in any way?
I see similarities in Crazy Bob. I see them with all the characters though. I think thats what makes this a bit confronting, is there is a bit of everyone in the characters. Or vice versa. Bob would be a bear if he was an animal. A very inappropriate bear.
What is it like to work on one of Brendan Cowell’s productions?
It’s great. This is the 3rd show of his I’ve done, and I love them. They’re raw, unapologetic, and there is always a bigger picture. His work revolves around themes that aren’t typically addressed in the outside world, and will bring people to question this behaviour.
You have worked almost equally on stage and on screen. Do you prefer either and is it easy to switch between the two?
I have been lucky to work a bit in both, yes. I love both of them equally, as they are both completely different, and yet the core remains the same. The truth always being paramount, but the technical skills required to tell the story differs. I love doing both because they both keep me pursuing truth in different ways, constantly giving me different tactics in different character situations.
Your next project is bringing to life the extraordinary life of Peter Allen in Not The Boy Next Door. What was it like working on the series?
Peter Allen was great fun. I had a blast. Peter was surrounded by colourful characters, and being given the opportunity to bring some of these characters to life on screen was a treat.
Do you have a dream role, either in theatre or film?
It may sound weird, but I don’t have a ‘dream’ role as such. I am constantly trying to understand people. I find people fascinating, and I love playing characters separate from myself, and finding what we have in common. I love working with people that are as interested in uncovering truths.
And finally, what should audiences expect from Men?
Audiences should most certainly expect to be confronted. Ideally the audience will leave the theatre trying to unpack what it truly is to be a ‘man’.