Someone to Watch Over Me, by Irish playwright Frank McGuinness, was dedicated to Keenan and tells a very similar story. Three captives are held together, American doctor Adam, Irish journalist Edward and English teacher Michael. They share a small cell without any bedding. Each man is chained to the wall. They only have two books to read, the Bible and the Koran. Their unseen captors do not speak to them, but they accompany them everywhere – a trip to the bathroom is always supervised, privacy and dignity are distant memories. The men lose track of what day it is, or even whether it is day or night. Their sense of claustrophobia is echoed by the tiny setting that is the Burton Taylor Studio; you feel as though you are in there with them.
They each fight their own demons as well as fighting each other. Adam’s greatest fear is showing fear itself. He is certain that if they break down in front of their captives, the game will be over. Edward appears to resent Adam’s optimism; he also resents the English. Michael feels as though he is intruding on a friendship that was formed long before he was thrown into the mix; he feels isolated as he only has his mother to worry about – Adam and Edward both have partners and Edward has children, although he admits he hardly knows them.
This play is not light entertainment. When the captives are distressed, it is distressing for the audience. It is particularly poignant when all three give voice to the letters they would write home to their loved ones – if only they were allowed that luxury. But despite seeing each man hit rock bottom, it is still a story full of hope, of the strength of the human spirit, and, largely thanks to the Irishman, a story of how a sense of humour can be your greatest ally.