Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Take an American doctor and an Irish journalist put them in a small room and chain them to the wall. Add an English professor to the prison room, also chain him to the wall. You then have three captives of terrorists in Beirut which is the basic storyline of Newport Repertory Theatre's current show "Someone Who'll Watch Over Me".
Although the show starts off slowly with wordy dialogue by Irish author Frank McGuiness during the exposition, the show picks up steam with the addition of the unknown British captive. This breaks the every day boring routine of the first two prisoners. They exercise and argue, supporting each other to have hope, survive and return home. The three display their national biases and predjudices. This finally gives away to showing their strengthes and weaknesses. Humor is their best defense against their captors and they have several fantasties to keep their spirits up. The guardian angel at the start of the show is the Irishman's wife(Jill Jones) who sings the title song beautifully. By show's end he has an American angel watching over him. As he leaves the cell, the Irishman promises to keep the Brit in his prayers, in other words, he'll be watching over him.
Director David Gardiner creates an oppressive atmosphere to this production. You are in a claustraphobic room with these three men, you become trapped with them in their cell. The bombed out walls of the cell with cracks in it, designed by Audrey Iwanicki is just right and the build up of emotional turmoil of each of the characters is on target, too. Stage manager Ellen Davis-Morris keeps things flowing smoothly from her lighting board position while the true to life atmospheric lighting is supplied by J Schaefer.
Michael Healy (producer) plays the Irishman, Edward. He bullies the others to keep them going only to fall apart by show's end. Michael transforms this character into an empathetic one. You can't figure his hateful behavior at first but you come to realize the survival instincthe is showing. Michael handles the emotional stuff and shows the character's backbone in his portrayal. He also shows his caring for the others in a pretend drinking scene to boost their morale.
Rob Reimer plays the British captive, Michael, wonderfully. He runs the gamut of emotions from his first taste of his surroundings to the flights of fancy of tennis matches, driving a car while singing "Chitty Bang Bang" and being a rabbit. He shows the despair of not knowing his father with an emotionally contorted face of sorrow and does the same at the end while wishing himself good luck in this horrible place.
Matt Barabe plays Adam, the doomed American. He is very calm and conversational at first but becomes a whirlwind of pathos later on while describing his dreams. Matt cries perfectly during these tense and highly riveting scenes. He forsees his impending doom and leads the men in a chorus of "Amazing Grace" to heighten the tension in that segment. Matt gives you a highly charged performance. So for a night of drama with a mixture of comic moments to relieve the situation at hand, go see "Someone Who'll Watch Over Me".