THE Theatre, in Chipping Norton, is deep into its preparation for two autumn productions. The venue usually presents work from touring companies and films but recently has moved into creating its own shows; Frankie & Johnny at Claire de Lune and The Glass Menagerie proved great successes. The powerful and riveting drama, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, by Frank McGuiness, is the show many of us are really looking forward to. Running from September 19-28, the play was loosely inspired by, among others, the story of captives such as Terry Waite, John McCarthy and Brian Keenan, who were held hostage in Lebanon in the late ‘80s. The award-winning play closely examines what it takes to survive in captivity, the humour, the anger, the humility and the unbearable uncertainty. Waite, who was working as a hostage negotiator was captured and held for 1,763 days in captivity, the first four years of which were in solitary confinement. Who can imagine what torments and despair he must have suffered?

The director, Caroline Leslie, swiftly recognised that if the actors could meet Terry they would be able to really get inside their roles with more knowledge and feeling than can be gleaned from research or a script. When approached, Terry agreed without hesitation to meet actor Johnson Willis, who plays the English hostage in the play. Late last month they met. Waite said at the outset that he wanted to have a frank discussion and that Johnson should ask anything he wanted. The two men spent almost two hours deep in conversation which Johnson said was some of the most fascinating and revelatory of his life. He was very touched by the great man’s humility and lack of anger. I remember the day, almost 25 years ago, when Terry Waite was released. I was working at the Oxford Playhouse and set up a photo-shoot with actor James Fox, and a host of national news photographers were set to come from London. Just before the shoot the snappers, one after another, phoned to say that they were on the M40 but not stopping at Oxford as Terry Waite had been released and was arriving at Brize Norton within hours, and they were commissioned to photograph his arrival. We never did reschedule that shoot.

John Terry, Artistic Director at The Theatre, is positive that the show will be an inspiring night of theatre: “This is going to be a powerfully intense theatrical experience, with the audience surrounding the stage, and the theatre transported to a place a long long way from the Cotswolds.

“But it’s not going to be a dark, depressing experience – this play instead reveals a sense of hope, humanity and humour in the most challenging of situations, showing just what we are capable of when our backs are against the wall. We are thrilled to be presenting this unique and moving drama, and to be hosting such a fantastic company of actors and creatives.” Call the box office on 01608 624350 or visit