SAN DIEGO — "Someone Who'll Watch Over Me," Frank McGuinness' 1992 Broadway play about a British professor, Irish journalist and American doctor held hostage in a Beirut basement, is the ultimate actors' showcase.
In productions from the West End to Broadway to South Coast Repertory in March, McGuinness' question of how three men can survive the boredom of months of being chained in a basement has transposed into the theatrical question of how three chained actors can hold our attention for nearly two hours on a minimal stage set.
At the Old Globe Theatre's Cassius Carter Centre Stage, Cotter Smith's verbally acrobatic Irishman, Richard Easton's literature-loving Englishman and Terry Alexander's passionate American do just that in an intermissionless version of the play. They mesmerize with wildly imaginative games--re-enacting favorite movies, Wimbledon matches--even though McGuinness doesn't plunge deeply enough into his characters and particularly lacks authenticity in the dialogue of the American.
While this production doesn't solve the script problems, these impeccable performances under the sensitive direction of Sheldon Epps subtly show how the prisoners watch over one another, keeping madness at bay with the most important tools humankind has yet developed--love, laughter and imagination.
\o7 * "Someone Who'll Watch Over Me," Old Globe Theatre, Cassius Carter Centre Stage, Balboa Park, San Diego. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Saturdays-Sundays, 2 p.m. Ends Aug. 21. $23-$34. (619) 239-2255. Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes.