DRAMA REVIVAL Someone Who'll Watch Over Me

Glasgow: Tron Theatre, Tue ll—Sat 15 Jul.

For all the sweeping plains and magnificent vistas of the movies, there’s something about theatre which compels through its intimacy. In a darkened auditorium, close to a group of actors, we can readily feel the human dilemmas which arise in our lives within small rooms and entrapped spaces. Frank McGuinness took these advantages to their logical conclusion in Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, a drama about the lives of three hostages in the strife-ridden Lebanon of a decade ago. This revival by Company Theatre attracted admiring attention two years ago. Now reworked for the Glasgow company’s most ambitious production so far, the play is liable to captivate once more.

While the original script was in preparation, McGuinness consulted Brian Keenan about his time as a hostage, and though there is ample evidence that the play amounts to a reconstruction of the events of the period, director Kate Wooldridge says this couldn't and shouldn't be a documentary piece. ’When the two

Someone Who'll Watch Over Me finds the hostage in all of us

of them spoke, John McCarthy was still held hostage, so they didn't want anything to be in the play to jeopardise the safety of McCarthy, or any of the other hostages still in Lebanon,’ she explains. 'We’ll never really know how close to Keenan's experience the play was.’

Whatever the level of accuracy, you might expect an account of the confinement of an Irishman, an Englishman and an American at close quarters, and in hostile conditions, to be a pretty grim experience, but Wooldrige is at pains to emphasise its light-hearted elements. 'It's actually very funny,’ she says. 'There's a lot of cross-cultural humour between the three countries represented by the hostages. The Irish and American characters have been together for some time

before the arrival of the British character, and when he arrives there’s a lot to remind us of the differences between the people of Ireland and the UK. The conversations between the Irish and British characters are painful, but very funny, and the American is also alien to the other two.’

If this play reminds us of the political tensions between the West and its developing neighbours, it might also suggest that there's something of the hostage in all of us, be it to money, family or even fortune. These characters have nowhere to go but to memory, imagination and dreams for solace. That might be true of us all in times of stress. Perhaps it’s for this reason that we relate so well to them in their extreme situation. (Steve Cramer)

Amusing yet serious in intent


Glasgow: Tramway, until Sat 8 Jul “fir sic

George Michael might not agree, but I'm inclined to think that this is as much fun as you can have in a cubicle, This event, which eventually turns into a many-voiced discussion of the West's attack on Iraq, is both amusing in execution and serious in intent. Whether you (an strictly define this as theatre is a moot point, but whatever this interactive Virtual reality show is called, it's worth S(‘(‘lll().

Audiences at any showuig are restricted to six Each person is given a character they must seek out (a 'target'i, and is led into a small cubicle. There, surrounded by a puddle of water, you naVigate your

player from the desert to a mysterious tarmac area, and finally to the interior of a building full of maze-like tunnels and staircases. A footboard is used to move your character around, and a kind of communal spirit develops With other audience members, With whom you comrriunicate occasionally throth a headphone microphone set. All of this is done through the curtain of rain in front of you, which is a little irritating in obscuring the Visual element of the show, but produces one truly eerie effect.

It would, once again, be telling you too much to speak of the latter part of the show, which connects us With the reality of the Gulf war, after the media unreality of the game. There is though, much for us to ponder here, With the structure, and nature of the piece adding to its chilling final effect. (Steve Cramer)

preview THEATRE

Stage whispers Treading the boards

IN THESE STRAITENED times, we should welcome any new venture in the theatre, but a particular warmth might be reserved for new stages in outlying areas. Theatre-goers outside the big metropolitan centres are frequently left for long periods without performances to attend. A small step towards rectifying this lack has been made in Peebles where the new outdoor Dovecot Theatre has been constructed in the grounds of Cringletie House Hotel.

None other than Robert Hardy has been attracted to the project and is acting as the Dovecot's patron. The star of stage and screen will be attending the theatre's official opening on Saturday 8 July. The current programme offers a variety of acts on weekends throughout the summer, with music and popular musical comedy very much to the fore. Among the upcoming attractions are An Afternoon Of Music Hall on Sunday 16 July and Rantin’, Rovin’ Robin, a two-man show depicting the life of Robert Burns. We wish the theatre luck and good weather.

ONE OF THE maior bugbears of the theatre, as any regular goer Will attest, is ticket prices. For this reason, we welcome the UK-Wide campaign, championed by the Institute Of Leisure And Amenity Management to remove the 17.5% VAT charge on theatre tickets. Many venues are currently involved in the campaign, struggling against the mentality which puts commerCial success at such a premium that many middle market venues have been forced into conservative programming, With only shows guaranteed of bankability getting onto our stages. This leaves new writers and less mainstream theatre ventures increasmgly out in the cold, and generally devalues adventurousness in the theatre. This debate is an old one but one hopes that the new campaign Will refresh it, and get at least some consrderation from the government.

Robert Hardy is lending his help to a new Scottish outdoor theatre

* * * i * Unmissable

* * * * Very ood

* t * Wort i a shot

* it Below average

it You’ve been warned

6 -20 Jul 2000 THE “ST 59