An archive of arts writing by Neil Cooper.
Effete No Obstacle.
Monday, 13 February 2012
Someone Who'll Watch Over Me
Twenty years on from Frank McGuinness' imagined study of daily life as
a political hostage inspired by the real life experiences of Brian
Keenan, and the pains of confinement McGuinness depicts look more
pertinent than ever. By placing an American, an Irishman and and an
Englishman in chains in an airless cell in Beirut, the survival
strategies they cling to go beyond initial sparring about colonialism,
invasion and all the other indignities caused by organised religion to
get to some sense of solidarity by default.
As with most of McGuinness' work, it's pretty much unbreakable, and
Rachel O'Riordan's new production simply lets it speak for itself, as
Adam, Edward and Michael move from fantasy Desert Island Discs to the
1977 Wimbledon Ladies Final to get them through their plight. The
blacked-out stage curtain slams down to punctuate each scene on Gary
McCann's tilted set, suggesting that any glimpse at other worlds is
shut out come night time. When awake, there's a kind of madness
inherent in the things the men cook up, which, as the trio question
their own manhood, lean more to the homo-erotic fantasia of Kiss of the
Spiderwoman than the angry hysteria of Midnight Express.
The interplay between Joseph Chance's laid-back Adam, Stephen Kennedy's
bluff Edward and Robert Morgan's academic Michael borders on absurdly
comic routines, as if they were merely finding common ground in some
post-pub piece of male bonding. Yet when Edward is released, leaving
Michael to survive alone, despite the sun that shines through the now
open door and the sentiments expressed, this is no end of summer camp,
but an experience that will mark them forever.