REVIEW: Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me by Frank McGuinness at Chichester Festival Minerva Studio

Rory Keenan and Adam Rayner in Chichester Festival Theatre's Someone Who'll Watch Over Me. Photo Manuel Harlan.
Rory Keenan and Adam Rayner in Chichester Festival Theatre's Someone Who'll Watch Over Me. Photo Manuel Harlan.

In the 1980s, the media was dominated by accounts of westerners being taken hostage in Lebanon.

Brian Keenan and John McCarthy were two of the high profile names whose ordeal have become synonymous with this fragment of troubled world history.

Frank McGuinness’s award-winning play premiered in 1992 and focusses on three men taken captive in just such circumstances.

Although the trio in his production were invented by the playwright, their captivity mirrored on stage the despair faced by so many.

More than 20 years later, the play has been dusted down at the Minerva - and it remains as razor sharp and emotionally brutal as the day the curtain first rose on it.

One member of the audience murmured to their partner that it was the best play they had ever seen at the Minerva.

Certainly it is hard to recall any production of quite such potent emotion, gentle humour, and perfect portrayal.

A bleak concrete cell forms the backdrop for this single set production.

Three captives - from America, England and Ireland - live out their months of shared isolation there.

Boredom. Fear. A longing to be back home. A love for each other.

They deliver performances that are so effortless that they border on the casual.

But there is nothing casual about this production.

It’s an emotional roller-coaster where humour and pathos crash into each other with brutal disregard.

Three great performances. One giant of a play. Yet another triumph for Chichester and the Festival team.