‘The Hostage’ opens Fri­day at the­ater in Church Hill

Record Observer - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT -

CHURCH HILL — Bren­dan Be­han’s “The Hostage,” di­rected by Pat Pat­ter­son, is the fi­nal pro­duc­tion of Church Hill Theatre’s 2018 Sea­son. “The Hostage” will open on Fri­day, Nov. 2, and run through Nov. 18, with per­for­mances on Fri­days and Satur­days at 8 p.m. and Sun­days at 2 p.m. Reser­va­tions can be made by call­ing 410-556-6003 or on­line at church­hillthe­atre.org.

A mid-20th cen­tury clas­sic, the play, as a New York Times re­view notes, “demon­strates how tyranny mas­quer­ades as lib­erty and how hu­man­ity is trapped in the bone-crush­ing em­brace of po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­di­ency.” De­spite its se­ri­ous themes, “The Hostage” is filled with mu­sic (from bag­pipes to bal­lads), bar room hu­mor, and gen­uine af­fec­tion amongst the down-and-out­ers who in­habit a shabby Dublin board­ing house. While there is not a sin­gle curse word in the script, the play con­tains adult themes and some vi­o­lence, so is not rec­om­mended for el­e­men­tary school stu­dents.

Set in 1960 Ire­land, be­tween the glory days of Easter Upris­ing and the hor­rors of the Trou­bles to come, Ir­ish na­tion­al­ism flour­ishes but is with­out firm di­rec­tion. Pat and Meg, who run an in­for­mal brothel in Mon­sewer’s house, reluc­tantly agree to house a Bri­tish hostage seized by the IRA in hopes of sav­ing a con­demned Ir­ish ter­ror­ist. But the en­su­ing mix of part-time mili­ti­a­men, pros­ti­tutes, and nostal­gic pa­tri­ots leads to con­fu­sion and mis­un­der­stand­ings. Be­han ob­vi­ously found the whole sit­u­a­tion trag­i­cally ab­surd — and re­sponded by us­ing com­edy to mask the pain. With on­stage piano ac­com­pa­ni­ment, ac­tors sing and dance as the spirit takes them, us­ing mu­sic to re­veal their emo­tional con­flicts.

Christo­pher Wal­lace plays Pat, the land­lord; Chris­tine Kin­lock plays his con­sort, Meg; and Herb Ziegler plays Mon­sewer, the An­glo-ir­ish owner of the house. Max Ha­gan por­trays the hostage, Leslie Wil­liams. Res­i­dents in­clude two pros­ti­tutes (one mostly re­tired), played by Natalie Lane and Michelle Christo­pher; a seedy civil ser­vant and an im­prob­a­ble so­cial worker, played by Howard Mesick and Hester Sachse; and a cou­ple of pro­mis­cu­ous men of fluid gen­der, played by Michael Moore and Kel­lan Paddy. Maya Mcgrory plays Teresa, the young and in­no­cent house­maid. An ex­trem­ist IRA of­fi­cer is played by Paul Briggs, as­sisted by an ea­ger vol­un­teer played by Ea­mon Mur­phy. Troy St­root­man is a Rus­sian sailor, per­haps the only one in the house with money in his pocket.

Julie Lawrence, the show’s mu­sic direc­tor, and Phil Dut­ton take turns play­ing Kelly, an on­stage pres­ence through­out the play, pro­vid­ing piano ac­com­pa­ni­ment for songs, a friendly place to sit, and even cash when the beer runs out.

Pat­ter­son’s pro­duc­tion team in­cludes pro­ducer Sylvia Maloney, set de­signer Michael White­hill, chore­og­ra­pher Cavin Moore, cos­tumer Juanita Wiec­zo­erck, light­ing de­signer Dou­glas Kauf­mann, di­alect coach Sally Borghardt, pho­tog­ra­pher Steve Atkin­son and sound de­signer Kat Mel­ton. Stage man­ager Sheila Aus­trian and her as­sis­tant Speedy Christo­pher work be­hind the scenes. Randy Welch, the bag­pipe con­sul­tant, recorded mu­sic es­pe­cially for the show and pro­vided a full piper’s kit for Mon­sewer.

Spe­cial two-for-the-price-of-one tick­ets are avail­able for the open­ing night show on Fri­day, Nov. 2, by call­ing the box of­fice at 410-5566003.

PHOTO BY STEVEN G. ATKIN­SON

A Rus­sian sol­dier (Troy St­root­man, cen­ter) is at­tended by two of the pros­ti­tutes liv­ing in the Dublin Board­ing House. Michael Moore plays Rio Rita (left) and Natalie Lane is Col­lette (right).

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