Monday, July 6, 2009

Theatre of Captivity

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Looking ahead at the upcoming weekend, I can’t help but notice that I seem to have overlooked much mention of Pink Banana’s new show—a production of the 1992 drama Someone Who'll Watch Over Me by Irish playwright Frank McGinnis. . . in the rush of a whole bunch of other shows this coming weekend, the Pink Banana show comes as one of the more prominent productions to look forward to.

I’d seen the show before . . . a Spiral Theatre production at their old short-lived studio theatre space. The premise is that you’ve got three guys who have been kidnapped by terrorists. This is one of my favorite types of theatre--one that can only bedone effectively on a very, very small scale. It’s the kind of a show that could only work well in a studio theatre space and only with minimal production value. Trying to be too flashy with a production like this would kill the sense of desolation. Three guys from three different backgrounds get to know each other as they wait for what may come. It’s not like a normal prison drama—these guys don’t know when or if they’re getting out and . . . it actually feels very much like another recent play that I’d seen produced a couple of different times—Lee Blessing’s 1988 play Two Rooms, which was also about a man who was kidnapped by terrorists on the other side of the world. The two have strikingly similar moods. The major difference is—with Two Rooms we see the drama from  the perspective of the man and his wife who hopes for his safe return. With Two Rooms, the intensity is much more potent. Three guys with three different nationalities—three different national identities—that’s it. Like the guys, we have no idea what’s going on in the outside world. It’s nowhere near as dark as it sounds—this is a play about hope. And Pink Banana is staging it at Next Act's Off-Braodway Theatre.

Pink Banana’s production of Someone Who'll Watch Over Me opens this Thursday, July 9th. It closes following July 18th.

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