The highly acclaimed production of Frank McGuinness’ masterpiece by The Actors Studio Malaysia is back!
After a hugely successful opening in Kuala Lumpur Jan 2011 where it played to full houses night after night and received rave reviews, this 2012 The Actors Studio is re-staging this wonderful production.
The play deals with three men, an Englishman, an Irishman and an American who are taken hostage and held in a filthy, windowless cell in Beirut. They are unsure of what the future holds for them. Will they see the light of day again? Will they see their families again? These are questions they do not have the answer for.
As they fight to survive and stay sane, they escape into their fantasy worlds by shooting films or reliving Wimbledon, they provoke and taunt each other, they comfort each other and simply hang on…
This production by The Actors Studio is directed by Joe Hasham and features a stellar cast comprising British actor Charles Donnelly, Australian actor Kingsley Judd and Malaysian actor Gavin Yap. Donnelly and Judd will be reprising their roles from the hugely successfully Scottish and Australian productions, respectively.
“Bottom line, watch it. This is an expertly-directed and well-played production… Highly recommended” Brenda James, The Star (Malaysia)
Presenter: The Actors Studio
Genre: Stage Play
Date & Time: 8 Feb 2012 (Opening Night) – 11 Feb 2012 @ 8:30pm /12 Feb 2012 @ 3pm
Venue: The Actors Studio @ Lot 10
Ticket Prices: RM 48 (Adults) RM28 (Student, Disabled, TAS Card, UNHCR Card)
Ticket Promotion: 20% Discount for Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me and The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr in a single receipt.
Date & Time: 16 Feb 2012 – 18 Feb 2012 @ 8:30pm19 Feb 2012 @ 3pm
Ticket Price: RM48 / RM28 (Student, Disabled, TAS Card, UNHCR Card)
Director: Joe Hasham OAM
Executive Producer: Dato’ Faridah Merican
Featuring: Charles Donnelly, Kingsley Judd & Gavin Yap
Written by: Frank McGuinness
Wednesday, January 19, 2011 from http://britangelot.blogspot.com/2011/01/someone-wholl-watch-over-me.html
The witty remarks of Edward (Kingsley Judd), the Irish journalist, was at times, hard to comprehend because of his thick accent, but I love his humour and sarcasm. Michael (Charles Donnelly), the English university professor was really a sanctimonious prig, to his own claim. Adam (Gavin Yap), the American doctor was always exercising, keeping up with his routine. The three innocent men, of different nationalities and backgrounds, trying hard to keep each other sane. Although they threw cruel remarks at each other, but I really felt their need to remain human and go through their days. How would you feel one fine day, to be caught and held hostage, and never know when your time is? How does it feel to be stuck in a windowless cell, oblivious to the outside world? To have someone listening you, so you’d have to fake laughs in order to show the guards that you’re okay? It’s not easy. It mustn’t be.
There were a lot of humour going on, Irish jokes like how they are the ones that invented foreplay, and that foreplay is alcohol. I love Judd’s portrayal of Edward. From an audience’s point of view, it’s as though they’ve lost their sanity, stuck in their bubble for too long, with the reenactment of Virginia Wade’s Wimbledon match, to singing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang whilst imagining to be in a flying car.
But some scenes really moved my heart away with full-blown emotions. One of it was watching Adam singing ‘Amazing Grace’, and the other two thanking him cause they really needed to hear those verses from the song. They ‘wrote’ letters, verbally, to their loved ones back home. Just an assurance that everything’s alright. Their extraordinary performance was so immense, with Ella Fitzgerald’s Someone To Watch Over Me playing at the end of every scene was hauntingly beautiful. I shed a few tears towards the ending. You can really feel what these men went through. It is after all based on a true story.
So overall, I enjoyed my Sunday thoroughly. Not only the play itself, but also the rest of the day in summary. I went through lengths, high and lows, to go to this. And I did. And it was worth every penny, every blood, sweat and tears involved. Now, I feel like going for all of the KLPac events. Feel like attending more theatre productions. Make full use of my student privileges. Ke ke ke.
People should really start appreciating The Arts, and also understanding what’s theatre. Do not be surprised, some may still question as to what a ‘play’ is. The trend of The Arts is growing among the young Malaysians, and I hope the people are more open to performing arts. Watching these actors perform on stage with their full might, I gotta take my hat off to them. Just plain stellar.
9/10. I would come back to Actors Studio for more. It’s better to spend my moolah on substantial talent and solid performances, rather than on clothes or accessories, no matter how pretty or a steal they may be.
Some say I’m an old lady at heart. “Kids our age go for movies, not to the theatre!” Well I’m defying all social norms! If it pleases me, I shall head to the theatre and watch a play. Do not diss my preference on what’s fun to me. I am not amused with the usual teenage routines. HAHAHHAHA. That was just a Queen Victoria reference. I do the usual teen things too, of course.
Laughter in despair
By BRENDA JAMES
Hostage is a crucifying aloneness. It is a silent, screaming slide into the bowels of ultimate despair. Hostage is a man hanging by his fingernails over the edge of chaos, feeling his fingers slowly straightening. Hostage is the humiliating stripping away of every sense and fibre of body and mind and spirit that make us what we are. Hostage is a mutant creation filled with fear, self-loathing, guilt and death-wishing. But he is a man, a rare, unique and beautiful creation of which these things are no part. – Brian Keenan, An Evil Cradling
WHAT happens when three innocent men are chained to the floor in the filthy, dark depths of a prison in Lebanon? Directed by Joe Hasham and staged in a dreary setting that unwittingly draws the audience into the squalid surroundings and mental anguish that these three men had to endure, this is what Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me tries to answer. In the black, bare space of the set designed by Martanoemi Noriega and lit by Lim Ang Swee the only props are a single lightbulb, bottles of water placed next to grimy mattress, the Bible and the Quran. Minimal, but under Hasham’s guiding hands they kept the audience absorbed for the next two hours.
Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me deals with three men – an Englishman, an Irishman and an American – who are taken hostage and held in Beirut. They are detained in a windowless cell with zero contact with the outside world and face a future where death could come at any time.
Based on a true account by Irish writer Brian Keenan in his book An Evil Cradling, the play explores the lives of these men who are held for political leverage, but in it stays clear of making this production a political statement. Rather, it is about identification of self, the triumph of the human spirit, about morality; it makes us more aware of the feelings of the hostages as they come to terms with the brutal reality of what they are facing.
Through Frank McGuinness’ screenplay, much of the horror is taken away by a sense of surrealism that the captives conjure up in the minds – the only way they are able to survive their hellish reality. While McGuinness carefully takes time to flesh out each character, Hasham successfully guided the actors in bringing their memories, biasness and regrets to the surface. The end result is a series of intense and captivating scenes.
The necessary mundanity of the set-up is exceeded by the energy the performers brought to the stage. On the acting front, there were no weak links. The actors are excellent as they vividly portray a mind slowly and steadily cracking over time and the despair that comes from hope slipping away.
Gavin Yap is admirable in his portrayal of Adam, the gentle and intelligent American doctor who religiously keeps to his exercise routine, while Kingsley Judd brilliantly plays the mordant and sarcastic Edward, the Irish journalist. Their kinship – reminiscent of a pendulum and swings between witty repartee to almost desperate attempts to raise each other’s flagging spirits – is broken by the sudden arrival of Michael, a professor of Middle English who is by his own admission is a “sanctimonious prig”, sensitively and consummately portrayed by Charles Donnelly. This forced “living arrangement” further creates a means to survive and the friendship becomes a weapon against their own vulnerabilities.
Yap, Judd and Donnelly take these different personalities and backgrounds and deliver their human imperfections with heart-breaking honesty. They are sometimes cruel to each other but it is a necessity. Their sense of terror and claustrophobia are heightened by the knowledge that the guards are listening in on all their conversations and laughter becomes the default expression as opposed to tears.
This ominous undertone reverberates with the melody of the call to prayer at the opening of each scene and the haunting vocals of Ella Fitgerald singing Someone To Watch Over Me at the end of each scene – sometimes they overlap leaving one feeling both confused and anxious – but that could have been yet another attempt at keeping the audience drawn into the reality of the play.
A veritable roller coaster ride, verbal wit is seamlessly combined with almost slapstick comedy and your heart will go out to the characters as they conjure up rich and elaborate scenarios which, for a spilt second in time, places them in an alternate reality. While the situations and events depicted via narrative were some of the most grim and harrowing that anybody could find themselves in, it was countered with burst of humour some even bordering on vaudeville but laugh you will.
From an observer’s standpoint, the childish competition among the captives is emotionally draining and yet you want them to shield themselves with this gloriously imaginative and unfettered humour. The slow onslaught of insanity (at times it does seem to drag on) is kept at arm’s lengths as these men imagine movies that they would direct or verbally “write” letters to their loved ones (and try to keep up a brave front for those at home).
At other times, Edward plays bartender and mixes-up heady batches of martinis before they fly off in their car to the tunes of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. A favourite scene was when Michael enacts Virginia Wade’s Wimbledon victory in 1977 with Edward cheekily standing in as Queen Elizabeth; their laughter was infectious and one couldn’t help but wish they would keep on laughing in the imaginary bubble.
Bottom line, watch it. This is an expertly-directed and well-played production and one hopes indicative of the quality of offerings for the year ahead.
Life: Triumph of the human spirit
Conversations spiral from casual chatter to arguments on various degrees of topics, with flightier ones including tennis matches, appointments with the Queen of England and animated driving lessons.
“Ridiculous, that’s the only way to explain the situation,” he adds.
Venue: Level 3A, Quay 1, Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung PinangTanjung Tokong, 10470 Pulau Pinang.