Hostage drama reveals tough human spirit

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A CENTRAL Sheffield nightspot is the perhaps unlikely setting for Frank McGuinness’s powerful and evocative play Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me.

Set in Lebanon in the 1980s and staged at Dempseys, on Hereford Street, the fictional drama is based loosely on the experiences of Brian Keenan and John McCarthy who were held hostage for many years.

It looks at people powerless to initiate change and how they cope with the most dreadful of circumstances, not knowing if it’s day or night, or if they are going to live or die.

The piece is also an exploration of the spirit and how it overcomes all the odds to survive, through humour, wit, anger, frustration, conversation both mundane and conflicting, and faith.

On seeing the original play for the first time, Brian Keenan said: “The opening - shallow lights on a man chained and leaning on a radiator - shocked me in its immediacy. Like seeing an old photograph and recalling unwanted memories, I sat frozen. Then with a pace and ferocity I had not expected, the play and its people blasted out of the shadows.”

In spite of its age, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me is a play of our time as hostage taking remains a real threat for political and criminal motives in Afghanistan, Iraq and South America.

Performances take place tonight, tomorrow, and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday next week.