Ryan Hollyman explores life behind bars.
For his latest role, actor Ryan Hollyman has been working on his storytelling and fantasizing skills.
They are literally lifesavers for his character, Adam, in Frank McGuinness's taut prison drama Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, presented by Adeona Productions and directed by Tegan Shohet.
The American Adam, a doctor, is one of three men held by a group of unnamed insurrectionists in Lebanon. He and his fellow captives, the Englishman Michael and the Irishman Edward - try to keep their sanity and their hopes up by engaging in everything from insults and football stories to playing faux Wimbledon matches and creating their own film scripts.
"Adam's the youngest of the three, but he has an inner strength the other two lack," says Hollyman, whose recent shows include Scratch and a Dora-nominated performance in Lawrence And Holloman.
"Like the others, he doesn't want to give in emotionally to his captors, because that means giving up all hope. That's why the three of them would rather laugh in their captors' faces than be seen to cry. It's not being beaten physically that's the scariest thing for the prisoners. It's far worse to be beaten spiritually."
Ironically, the play is filled with humour, since Edward relies on joking to keep his wits about him. Adam is often cast as the straight man in the exchanges.
"All three are forced to face their fears and relate to each other in ways they otherwise probably wouldn't," says Hollyman. "Humour is the best way to do that, though in these characters' situation someone can get bruised along the way.
"Memories also play a large part in their lives. They're a chance to share yourself and have someone else witness your existence. It's too painful to face the fact that you might have been forgotten outside the jail, so you constantly declare yourself through what you remember - a song, a movie or some event from your history.
"In fact, the men use the past in order to hold onto the future."