For the final production of this semester, Nottingham New Theatre are presenting Frank McGuinness’ Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me. Impact Arts spoke to director Will Berrington and production assistant Becca David about insanity, hostages and survival, to get their perspective of putting on such a challenging play.
Can you tell us what the play is about?
Will Berrington: The play centres around an Irishman, an Englishman and an American locked in a cell. It sounds like the beginning of a joke, and while the play does provide a lot of laughs, it’s also a tragedy in many ways. The play is set in the 1990s across 6 months, and takes place at the height of the Lebanese hostage crisis. It examines the tribulations of hostage victims as they attempt to survive in the conditions in which they are placed.
What is your favourite part of the play?
WB: There is a wonderful scene where Adam, Edward and Michael throw an imaginary cocktail party to rebel against their captors. It’s energetic, shocking and full of wonderful jokes, and I’m hoping the audience will be swept along in the fun of it all.
Becca David: One of my favourite parts of the play is when they read out letters from home. We are exposed to more depth within their characters, see the impact they have on each other and also how their relationships have developed.
What have been your biggest challenges so far as director and production assistant?
WB: Portraying the growing insanity of the boys as they spend more time in the cell. Without giving away too many spoilers, there is one scene in which Edward goes from singing to driving a flying car to hallucinating about his dead father. It’s pretty fast paced, and working with the actor to get it just right was a massive challenge for the both of us.
BD: A challenge was to get the actors to understand their objectives within each scene and line specifically so that they were able to deliver them well and react off each other, which was important in a primarily conversational piece.
As production assistant, what has your role been in creating the production?
BD: As production assistant, I have provided an extra pair of eyes with some of the directing and blocking. I have also been helping the actors understand their characters and the characters’ objectives at certain parts in the play. I have also provided a helping hand to the director and producer with any extra jobs they needed doing.
Why do you think this play is relevant or will appeal to UoN students?
WB: Survival is a thing that, for some people, is a daily achievement – and at university even more so. So many people go through troubles which they feel they cannot vocalise to their friends, and I want this play to show how important vocalisation of even what may seem the most trivial issues can be. Of course, the play shows it on a grander scale, but the message is still the same: to survive we have to learn to love and be loved for who we are in return.
With staging such a wildly successful play, are you feeling any pressure in putting on Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me?
WB: My last production was of nearly brand new writing so yes, pretty nervous! McGuinness’s writing is so different every time a different company performs it, so I’m just hoping my interpretation is up to scratch.
BD: There is pressure within this play to keep the audience engaged, and to ensure that they thoroughly believe and understand the iconic characters being portrayed.
Does the play have a message?
WB: There are a few, but the main one is that survival is an art.
BD: The importance of companionship!
Can you sum up the play in three words?
WB: Don’t cry, laugh.
BD: Keep on surviving.
Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me is running at the Nottingham New Theatre from Tuesday 15th March until Friday 18th March. For more information and to book tickets, see here.