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'Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me' at Tacoma Little Theatre

Human spirit triumphs in the face of adversity

Tough Times: There’s a lot of suffering and inhumanity in TLT’s latest production. Courtesy TLT/Dean Lapin

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Tacoma Little Theatre is known for putting on consistently good productions. TLT chooses a variety of plays that appeal to a wide audience. The theater's current production, Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, is one of the few TLT productions intended for a mature audience. Rated R for "explicit language and situations," the play by Frank McGuinness is as relevant now as it was when it first opened in 1992. 

Adam (Tim Shute) is an American doctor held in captivity who shares a Beirut cell with Edward (Tim Samland), an Irish journalist. Kidnapped and thrown together, Adam and Edward go through a range of emotions as they try to make sense of their circumstances. Part way through Act I, Adam and Edward are joined by a third man, Michael (Martin J. Mackenzie). Michael is an English professor who was nabbed while on his way to the market. The play has limited action and is driven by dialogue. Chained to the floor of their cells, the men struggle to keep their spirits lifted and to hide their despair from their captors.

Shute, Samland, and Mackenzie are remarkable actors. They handle the challenges of the script with apparent ease. The three men do a wonderful job of capturing the different stages of captivity. At different points in the play, each of the characters breaks down as they struggled with the "suffering and inhumanity of their incarceration" - in such an honest and raw way it moved audience members to tears. The cast balances the grief and anger with moments of humor and camaraderie.

While Mackenzie and Samland handle their accents well, Samland's Irish accent is quite beautiful. Shute, Samland and Mackenzie's expressions and gestures add depth and realism to their characters and bring the script to life.

Doug Kerr directed, designed the set and was also the master carpenter for this production. His love of this play is evident in his attention to detail. The simple set is striking, and Niclas R. Olson's lighting design sets it off wonderfully. The costumes, designed by Villa Kerr, are simple and effective. Attention to detail can be seen in the level of dirtiness of the men. For example, Act II opens to find them with added layers of dirt, adding to the appearance of time passing and the authenticity of their circumstances.

There was no aspect of Someone Who'll Watch Over Me that failed the audience. The subject matter, by nature, made it a difficult play to watch, but the skill of Tacoma Little Theatre's cast and crew did more than justice to McGuinness' award-winning play.

March 15 is the "Pay What You Can" performance, and the "Actor Benefit" is scheduled for March 22, with the ticket sales being split among the performers. Whenever you choose to see this production, be prepared to laugh and cry, as TLT delivers another solid production.

Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me

Through April 1, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday
2 p.m. Sunday, $15-$25
Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 N. I St., Tacoma

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