David Ferry, Ryan Hollyman, R.H. Thompson in Someone to Watch Over Me

Thursday Theatre Review: Someone to Watch Over Me

Okay, so, I know that going to a play that centers around three prisoners chained to the wall in a dank cell, held hostage with no idea why they are there or how long they will stay, doesn't sound like a great night out on the town, but... Adeona Productions' production of Someone to Watch Over Me nicely balances the bleak situation with some great laughs.

My show-partner for this was Mark, someone I studied theatre with in university. We didn't walk out with the same impressions, which actually always makes for the most interesting post-show coffee experiences.

Mark, it would seem, hates this kind of play. There is no plot to speak of, and you know it's not going to end well, and, perhaps, not end at all. He said that it felt like he was sitting through yet another retelling of Waiting for Godot. If he's going to watch a play about the human soul then he'd like to see it tell him something new, and he didn't feel like this one did.

Here's the thing, he's right on all those points, but they don't bother me at all. I'm just fine with those things if the production is good, and the introspective exploration is done in an interesting way. I don't have a need for it to be new information.

I was just fine watching the characters banter, fight and play back and forth while chained to the wall. The set didn't change through out the piece, and there were limited movement opportunities for the actors, given the (admittedly long) chains attaching them to the walls of their cell. This really is a play about the script. So I can completely understand not particularly enjoying the production if the script was the type of thing you weren't enamoured with.

Even with our two different levels of enjoyment of the piece, we agreed that it was a solid production. Mark made it clear that it was the script he didn't like, that he didn't take issue with the directing, tech or acting. In fact, this was Mark's first exposure to R.H. Thompson and he was very impressed. I found each actor's performance solid, but all in different ways, different styles. Mark felt the performances were uneven - I think that he found the styles clashed, which didn't work for him.

When I asked Mark is overall impression of the show he said "um, well, it was better than CATS?" (for the record, as uncool as this may be, I love CATS - it's the first theatrical production I remember going to when I was 5 or 6...). I asked him to explain a bit more and he said that it was decent, but he wouldn't really recommend it to someone - again stressing that it was the script he didn't like and that the production was well done.

That isn't to say Mark didn't like anything about the play. In fact, we had the same favourite moment, but for different reasons. It was the ending. We felt it was incredibly powerful, although, interestingly, we felt its power from different angles. But, since I don't want to give away the ending, I won't go into details.

Bottom line, I'd say that if you're someone who needs a dynamic plot that moves forward to a climax, this probably isn't for you. But, given that it was a good production with lots of laughs mixed in with the inner torment and slow decent into madness, if you're okay with it being a kind of reflective piece that, like so many other pieces, explores the human condition, then this is likely the show for you. The show is only playing for 4 more performances, so if you want to check this one out, you'll need to do it quickly.

- Someone to Watch Over Me plays at the Berkeley Theatre (26 Berkeley St) until December 13, 2008
- The remaining shows are Thursday, December 11 ( 8 p.m.), Friday, December 12 (8 p.m.) and Saturday, December 13 (2 p.m. and 8 p.m.)
- Ticket prices are $30 for evening performances and $25 for the Saturday matinee and are available through the CanStage Box Office (416) 368-3110 or online

Photo of David Ferry, R.H. Thompson and Ryan Hollyman by Cylla von Tiedemann

P.S. This will be my last blogTO post for a while. I'm having a baby (or, judging from the ultrasound pictures, perhaps a small alien) in the new year, and will need to focus my effort there. So, I just wanted to say that I have really enjoyed writing here, and who knows, maybe I'll be back in a year - or, maybe it will be an alien after all and eat me in its sleep - only time will tell. Take care folks, and go to lots of theatre, it's fun!

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