Saturday, January 30, 2010
First Thoughts: Someone Who'll Watch Over
I recently sat in on a read through of Someone Who'll Watch Over Me. One of my first thoughts was that it was surprisingly funny. As Production Manger for Phase 3 Productions, my job at these rehearsals isn't to be entertained. I'm there to make sure that we aren't missing a prop, the actors aren't going to hurt themselves by tripping over the set and that nothing violates the fire code. My job is the nuts and bolts (and lights and speakers and backstage crew) of putting on a show. I was distracted from that by jokes the characters make. They poke fun at movies, quip about stereotypes and genuinely earn some laughs. They do it while chained to a wall. The humor was unexpected.
Someone Who'll Watch Over Me isn't a typical show though.
Frank McGuinness doesn't give us the typical narrative. There are no villains. Even the easy answer, making the terrorist holding these three men hostage into villains, never happens. These terrorist are as unseen as any person who might rescue the hostages. That brings up the next point: there aren't any heroeseither. Even the three hostage aren't heroes. Sometimes the situation gets to them and they say things that hurt each other. They get angry or scared. They give in to despair. They break down. What Someone Who'll Watch Over Me gives us is real people.
That reality is the ultimate strength of the show. We care about these characters because they are real. We care about how they will survive because these men could be anyone we meet on the street. They had lives before being chained to a wall in Lebanon. That life included mistakes, selfish choices and annoying personality traits. Michael admits to being a 'sanctimonious prig.' Edward is an absent father and cheating husband. Adam came to Lebanon to study the victims of war but not really help them. All three of them have wonderful things about them too. Michael loves his mother. Edward has wit and energy. Adam can calm the other two when they start giving up. They tell each other stories to entertain. Thy sing songs. In the middle of horrific conditions, Adam, Edward and Michael struggle retain there sanity and some something of their humanity. They even tell jokes.
That's what I love about Phase 3 Productions. My job is to make the theatre happen. The theatre that Phase 3 Productions makes is worth it.