‘Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me’ at Port City Playhouse by Erica Laxson

It’s not everyday that a play can take you into the tortured minds of three political prisoners, but the Port City Playhouse presentation of Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me delivers quite a mental roller coaster ride. With minimalism as the central design theme, Director Rosemary Hartman has  developed a touching and thought provoking piece of art.

From left to right: David James, Matthew Randall, and John Shackelford. Photo by Mike deBloise.

Set in a cell in Lebanon of the 1980’s, the psychological aspects of the play force us to consider our own reaction to the threat of indefinite detainment. From start to finish the three captives held us on the edge of our seats as we watched their minds slowly erode by terror. Nothing can represent the true plight of an isolated prisoner, but the hopelessness of their situation created a vibe permeated the entire performance with palpable depression and fear.

David James fills the role of Adam, the cocky American who holds the group together with his wit and humor. James perfectly balances on the razor’s edge of cheery absurdity and gut wrenching depression that seems hard to grasp, yet all too real.

Matthew Randall plays Edward, the Irish captive who is ornery til the end. Randall flaunted a practiced Irish brogue throughout the show, and though it was a bit hard to understand him at times, the accent was well received. From his charismatic reenactments to the moment of his greatest emotional challenge, Randall commits to and delivers a thought provoking performance.

And finally, John Shackelford played Michael, the stalwart and inherently effeminate Brit who copes as best he can. Shackelford also mastered an accent for his role and it was a pleasant surprise to hear such a successful voice. Heavily relying on his channeled fear, Shackelford was the ideal performer to capture Michaels permanently spooked demeanor.

The hopelessness of the show would have all been for nothing if set designer Frank Pasqualino hadn’t worked his magic on the stage. The intimate look at a prison cell was all we were left to stare at before the show and the empty room, stained by years of prisoners, was imprinted in our minds. Lighting Designer Julie Ann Watko adding the final touch to the show by expertly telling each story with dramatic lighting or forgoing the use of light at all.

Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me is a ‘Must See’ for anyone not afraid to face an honest portrayal of the worst humans in their own mind.

Running Time: One hour and 50 minutes, without an intermission.

Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me plays through May 5, 2012 at Port City Playhouse at The Lab at Convergence – 1819 N Quaker Lane, in Alexandria, VA. Purchase tickets by calling (703) 998 -6260, or order them online.


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