TALISMAN THEATRE REVIEW: It's a gruesome, gripping production of a hostage nightmare that's a 'must see'

Andrew Callum, Samuel Wall and Mark Plastow.
Andrew Callum, Samuel Wall and Mark Plastow.

Reviewer Clive Peacock gives his verdict on the latest production at Kenilworth's Talisman Theatre - Someone Who'll Watch Over Me.



Tuesday, November 5

Set and lighting design guru, Brian Tuck, ensures his lighting plot has immediate and maximum impact as a vast flood of light is forced on the audience as they await the actors.

This quickly reminds those present of the horrendous tortures to which the subjects of hostage situations are exposed. If a reminder was still necessary, that flood of light returns after the interval; for the most part the lighting plot requires one single light bulb above the stage reflecting the gruelling conditions in Beirut. Talisman Theatre’s gripping production presents the gruesome, questioning reflections by three outstanding actors challenging each other for the best part of three hours. Yes, this is gripping stuff involving an Irish journalist (Edward), an American doctor (Adam) and an earnest English academic (Michael)!

Director, Rod Wilkinson, promises his audience “no big sets” and is true to his word as his team creates a replica of the 1980’s cell conditions in the Lebanon where Brian Keenan and John McCarthy were held hostage by Hezbollah.

Their experiences inspired Frank McGuinness to write this remarkable work about individual struggles with the challenges of being trapped – a reminder to the audience, too, to reflect on our current political hostage crisis and how that might be resolved.

Samuel Wall’s début at the Talisman as the Irish journalist is an astonishing achievement. His performance is full of distressingly painful, emotional reminders of the stresses those hostages suffered. He is the one most likely to crack under the constant pressures, but doesn’t. Eventually released, he promises to visit the mother of the academic in Peterborough!

There is wit and some humorous moments – the Virginia Wade versus Betty Stove Wimbledon Final of 1977 is replayed – but for many the reminders of the strengths of character of the players in such appalling conditions is overwhelming. Edward describes the American doctor, as a “brave, kind, beautiful and innocent friend”. Mark Plastow’s performance is exactly that; Andrew Cullum, the academic who taught Medieval English at university before ‘rationalisation of resources’ forced him to Beirut, is the fall guy who survives the taunts of his

peers is a big part of this ‘must see’.

By Clive Peacock