Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me
By Frank McGuinness
Guest Reviewer: Robert Viagas
An Englishman, and Irishman, and an American discover ways to cope with life chained to the walls of a terrorist prison together in a beautifully acted but overlong Off-Broadway revival of Frank McGuinness’ 1992 drama Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me.
The now all-but-forgotten 1980s war in Lebanon didn’t produce a rich literature like other wars, because most people, especially Americans, were so removed from its bloody reality. In a sense, so are these three characters—until find themselves right in the middle of it, pawns in a game they barely understand.
Alan Langdon’s production captures the monotony of their incarceration and the ways they find to break it. The play explores the geography of their forced camaraderie. They get to know each other, learn about their differences and similarities, they form bonds of friendship, get on each other’s nerves, drive each other crazy, fight, have bromances, and eventually, completely against their various wills, get to know one another deeply.
Their captors are always unseen malevolent others, whom they perpetually need to defy or antagonize or placate. They confess their raw terror at what may befall them at any moment.
Michael Broadhurst creates the most complex character, the Englishman who at first seems effete and soft, but who eventually shows that he has the toughest backbone of them all. As the Irishman Jonathan Judge-Russo is full of bluster and bravado but eventually allows a more vulnerable side to come through. Leif Steinert plays the mercurial American who seems the most reconciled to their situation, but who exhibits moments of frustrated madness.
When one of the three suddenly disappears—presumably executed by the militants—the other two mourn him like a lost family member and eventually grow even closer together. What they all demonstrate is the power of the human spirit over the most adverse of circumstances.
The show had a seven-month run on Broadway in 1992-93.
Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me is scheduled to play at the Cherry Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village through December 9.