A fabulous role to play
Hi. I’m Samuel Reid, playing the part of Benjamin in ‘The Graduate’. I was first asked to play Benjamin back in August of last year, when I was in Edinburgh performing in a new musical at the Fringe Festival with Samantha Griffiths (Mrs Robinson). I was a little overwhelmed as most of my experience with drama has been in musical theatre – I’ve haven’t acted in a proper play since I was 16! However, when I picked up the script I realised that, while this would be a challenge, I was so excited to be given the chance to really sink my teeth into something new.
The part of Benjamin is a tricky one, even taking into account the time he’s on stage: there’s only one scene in the play in which Benjamin does not appear! He’s a hard character to play because, on the surface, his deeds, dialogue and his generally moody demeanour make it difficult to sympathise with him, both from my perspective in portraying him and from the audience’s view too. Certainly he’s complicit in Mrs Robinson’s seduction of him, even if not at first, and he spends much of his time wallowing in his own self-pity. His lack of respect for everyone other than himself is evident in the indifference he displays to the other characters in the play.
So how do we interpret Benjamin’s bewildering behaviour? If we dig a little deeper, there are elements of Benjamin which convey a very frustrated young man – a man who feels lost and helpless, struggling to come to terms with the life he finds himself in after his graduation. Having graduated recently myself, I can definitely empathise with the uncertainty that postgraduate life entails! His only passion in life turns out to be his passion for Mrs Robinson’s daughter, but his affair with Mrs Robinson creates a barrier against his desire for Elaine. His tragic feelings don’t justify his actions, but they do show that his motives were not malicious – he’s not really a bad guy.
Benjamin’s been fabulous fun to play and I’ve loved every minute of bringing him to life on stage. It’s been a real pleasure to be welcomed so warmly into this talented group and I hope I can take part in many more productions with the Saddleworth Players in the future.
Samuel Reid, Mar 7, 2017