Someone Who'll Watch Over Me
Saturday night, the Attic Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon was home to Tread The Boards Theatre Company’ latest production, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me; a fascinating and unique production for the theatre.
Frank McGuinness’ humane yet hilarious tale of three western hostages captured during the civil war in Lebanon is an incredible, intense and demanding piece for the three actors, who are onstage for the entirety of the play.
Despite this, John-Robert Partridge, Pete Meredith and Philip Leach are all simply stunning as their three deeply physiologically complex characters.
Philip Leach completely embodies the stereotypical ‘English professor’ that is Michael; he possessed a gentleness and sobriety that solicited overwhelming feelings of encumberment from the audience, which contrasted with moments of real sharpness and fire when Michael’s patience with his fellow inmates occasionally snaps.
Pete Meredith, as the youngest member of the cast, portrayed the American doctor, Adam. With the exception of the occasional accent slip, it was a stellar performance; especially given the extreme highs and lows of the character. A prime example of this was the breakdown Adam has which, for the audience, seems to come from nowhere and would have been very easy to overplay, but the truthfulness of Pete’s performance was undoubtable and incredibly moving.
The funniest element of the show was, easily, the archetypal Irishman Ed; executed brilliantly by John Partridge. The cynicism and dry wit of this performance is what kept the lighter elements of the play afloat and prevented the complete sink into melancholy stupor. Not to say that his performance was purely comical; with a thousand-yard stare that made audience members quite literally question their existence! Alongside a beautiful frankness that exemplified the ‘less is more’ school of acting, Partridge really made Ed the heart of the piece.
Jonathan Legg’s direction provided simplistic and natural staging which aided the humanity of the characters, and the close-quarters nature of The Attic Theatre really helped you to sympathise with the awful situation in which they were positioned.
The layers of work were evident from the natural chemistry of the three actors, though perhaps some of the dramatic pauses were slightly over laboured and self-indulgent, especially in a play of such considerable running time. They certainly achieved the desired effect of displaying the ‘tedium’ that must’ve been felt, but sometimes it consequently weakened the more comedic moments by bringing the tempo down a little too much; an understandable choice but one that perhaps robbed some of the variety from the piece.
Overall it was a fantastic production of a difficult play by fantastic actors who more than did it justice; there has not been such raw and visceral performances seen outside of London’s West End for quite some time!
Review by Luke McDonald, Pulse Productions