Chipping Norton Theatre’s third in-house production, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, is a captivating take on what happens to humanity when it is pushed to the very limits of psychological endurance.
The hard-hitting drama written by Frank McGuinness and directed for The Theatre by Caroline Leslie, tells the story of three hostages shut in the darkness and watched over by armed guards in a cell somewhere deep in Beirut in the war-torn Lebanon.
The events in some ways mirrors the experiences of real-life hostages Terry Waite, Brian Keenan and John McCarthy, who were held for years by Lebanese extremists demanding ransoms from Western governments.
On the show’s opening night last Thursday the Theatre seating was re-arranged around the stage on four sides creating an intense, intimate atmosphere and giving the audience nowhere to hide.
The play begins with two hostages – Edward, played by Andrew Macklin whose fiery Irish character strongly resembles the real life Brian Keenan, and Adam, an American hostage played by George Banks.
Chained to a bar running round the edge of the stage and with no props other than bottles of water and blankets, the two men attempt to rationalise their situation with frenzied exercise sessions and vitriolic discussion, with each in turn breaking down under the strain of captivity.
They are soon joined by a third hostage, a mild mannered English teacher, Michael, played by Johnson Willis, who in some ways resembles the gentle sophistication of Terry Waite.
Quintessentially English, Michael has the other two men cringing in amazement at his tales about being taken hostage while shopping for pears and his lifelong support for football ne’er-do-well’s Peterborough United, but they are also moved by his quiet stoicism. The tale exposes in graphic detail the humour and tragedy humanity is capable of when pushed to the very limits of existence. The play shows today (Thursday), Friday and Saturday at 7.45pm with a matine performance on Saturday at 3pm. To buy tickets call: 01608 642350.