As we stepped inside The Strutts Centre we were confronted by machine gun-toting Arabs with their faces masked by scarves patrolling the building’s corridors.
The guards gathered the audience and escorted us into a ‘cell’ where the prisoners lay chained to the walls.
The atmosphere was spine-tingling and, as our eyes adjusted to the dim light, the cell door was slammed shut and locked and the drama unfolded before us.
Frank McGuinness’s 1992 play Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me was inspired by the experiences of Brian Keenan John McCarthy and Terry Waite who were held hostage in Lebanon in the late 1980s.
An Englishman, an Irishman and an American are locked up together in the Middle East and the play is simultaneously a gripping psychological exploration of three men enduring an extreme situation and a sort of morality tale looking at life in the face of death.
Jane Wilton, who directed this production, confesses in her programme notes that she has been in love with the play for a long time and has always been morbidly fascinated by hostage situations and how humans cope when thrown together in confinement.
Her passion for the subject certainly enabled her to conjure up everything in her directional armory and she and the Players have triumphed once again.
The casting was perfect; the set ingenious in its simplicity and the choice of room was a masterstroke. The decaying walls in the old classroom were the perfect backdrop for the play. And to top it all we even had original music performed live.
The excellent actors Nick Mothershaw as Edward, Tom Makinson as Adam and Terry Stevenson as Michael, were so deep in character that at times it was easy to forget this was performance and not reality.
I think if Frank McGuinness himself was to see the production he would cry: “yes, oh yes, that’s just perfect, just as it should be”.
I know it is probably wrong to single out any of three actors for special praise but I just have to say that Nick Mothershaw was outstanding.
As Edward he had to be a funny as well as an aggressive character. He initiated the cracks but was frequently pulled back in line by the others. It was a tough part to carry off, but throughout the play Nick’s face portrayed all the emotions being asked of him. I confess he brought tears to my eyes.
Despite the subject matter the play is not without humour and there were several moments when we were all relieved to be able to laugh out loud.
The behind the scenes team for the production were:
original music composed and performed by Susan
Stevenson accompanied by Sheila Kay Sly; set design
Barry Brown; sound and lighting Richard Platt;
costume and props Ann Taylor; marketing Alyson Koe,
Sue Wood, Ann Taylor and Nick Mothershaw; prompts
Maggie Burns and Ann Taylor.