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Martin Behrman: ‘It’s a notoriously difficult industry – have good people around you’

Martin Behrman. Photo: Kim Hardy

As he makes his West End debut as Sergeant Trotter in Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, Martin Behrman tells Giverny Masso about the challenges of sustaining a career in the industry…

What is it like making your West End debut?

It’s been a long journey to the West End stage. It’s been fantastic, but a long time coming. I’ve done a lot of fringe theatre and many workshops leading up to this. The last big theatre job I did was at London’s National Theatre, that was three years ago. I was in The Motherf**ker With the Hat, which transferred from Broadway. I was understudying Tony-nominated Yul Vazquez as well as the other lead, Ricardo Chavira. It was the first big thing I did, and the National Theatre is the best of the best.

How did you prepare for your role in The Mousetrap?

I saw the production six or seven years ago in the West End. When I came round to doing it, I made a choice not to see it again, as I wanted to build the character myself. We had a two-week rehearsal period, which was pretty intense.

Why do you think The Mousetrap is the longest running show in the West End?

It’s a really well-written play. Everyone who comes to see it enjoys it. It’s compelling, it draws you in because it has a good mix of humour and it has a darker side – as it’s a murder mystery. A lot of families come to the matinees – kids love it too. It’s one of those productions that has something for everyone.

What are you doing after The Mousetrap?

Before I started The Mousetrap, I worked with Morgan Freeman and Gerard Butler on the film Angel Has Fallen, which comes out later this year. I play an FBI agent in the film. In terms of future ambitions, I would love to get back to the National. Last time I was there as an understudy – although I got to go on stage, it was like having the experience of working there but not quite doing the whole thing.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career so far?

This probably applies to most people – keeping going. There have been a lot of ups and downs. You can have a spate of work, as I had in the run up to the National where I did lots of TV and film, and then not a lot. It’s a notoriously difficult industry. My advice is to have good people around you. It’s been difficult at times, but you have to keep on going and when you get those opportunities, you should grab them with both hands. The Mousetrap was my first theatre audition in a while.

How did you get into theatre?

I’ve done it for most of my life. A long time ago at primary school, I did a project with the theatre company Chickenshed [1], which works with a mix of able-bodied and disabled children. That was my first involvement in theatre. At secondary school I did the usual drama and theatre studies and outside of that I was a member of a part-time theatre school called Sondheim Theatre Arts.

CV: Martin Behrman

Training: BA in drama and screen studies at Manchester University (2001-04), Master’s in acting, Drama Centre London (2005-07)
First professional role: Men Without Shadows, Finborough Theatre, London (2007)
Agent: Lee Morgan Management

Martin Behrman is performing in The Mousetrap [2] until September 22