Review – Be Silent or Be Killed

May 9 2013 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩   Tenacity of survival in silence

Helen Mackay (Irene) and James Mackenzie (Roger) in Right Lines Productions' Be Silent or Be Killed. Photo credit Right Lines Productions

Helen Mackay (Irene) and James Mackenzie (Roger) in Right Lines Productions’ Be Silent or Be Killed. Photo credit Right Lines Productions

Brunton Theatre and tour
Wed 15 May; tour to 25 May
Review by Irene Brown

A terrorist attack while on a business trip to Mumbai in 2008 forced Roger Hunt to spend 40 hours in his hotel bedroom, while the attackers roamed the building killing all Westerners they found.

This true story, a tale of endurance and strength of the human spirit, was originally recorded by Hunt and Kenny Kemp in the book Be Silent or Be Killed. Now, it is given a gripping adaptation by Moray-based theatre company Right Lines Productions, on tour round Scotland.

The theatrical atmosphere is soothed by quiet Indian music but, in a perfect metaphor for the action on stage, it is quickly shattered as the attack begins. Hunt had been enjoying some Indian hospitality instinct, now instinct kicks in and he heads for his hotel room – his frantic fear almost tangible as the effects of the attack appear on a large screen at the back of the stage like a violent video game. With his Western suit changed to incognito black tee and jeans, invisibility is the name of his game.

Like the Ancient Mariner, with water everywhere yet not a drop to drink, Hunt bars himself from the mini bar. The terrorists are hunting down Western residents throughout the Oberoi Hotel, so its use would alert them to his presence in room 1478.

He cowers behind the sofa sending texts to colleagues in Scotland – that appear on the screen. It is modern technology that is his life line and it is modern technology that injects real life into this piece of theatre.

The mantra of a glorious Aberdeen football team

During the 40 hours of self-imposed incarceration that ensure his survival, Hunt plumbs the depths of memories, recalling events and people which manifest on stage.

Buy the original book:

His dead brother Chris appears to him and helps him assess his life’s priorities – family, love, home and football. Thanks again to the impressive audio visual effects he goes from school to squash court to Sir Alex at Pittodrie. His periodic reciting the mantra of a glorious Aberdeen football team provides sustenance in the absence of any actual physical sustenance.

Choking from smoke, he switches off the air con that is bringing it in. He comes to terms with his situation and his hitherto successful life throughout his ordeal. Talk about ‘…all I need is the air that I breathe and to love you…’

Hunt hails from Macduff and this play is rightly performed largely in guid NE Scots with strong and committed performances from James Mackenzie as Roger Hunt – replacing Fraser Sivewright who had to pull out due to an injury – and Ewan Donald as his brother Chris and the other miscellaneous small parts. Helen Mackay gives a good performance as Hunt’s wife, Irene but her body language in other characters did not shift enough to accommodate the lack of any significant costume change.

Hunt’s experience has resulted in a lasting gratitude for life. This impressive multi- media production is an affecting affirmation of human tenacity.

Running time 1 hour
Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, Wed 8 May
Summerhall, Edinburgh, Wed 15 May.
Right Lines Productions website:

Be Silent of Be Killed on Tour

Wed 8 May Musselburgh
The Brunton
0131 665 22409 Book online
Thurs 9 May Perth
Perth Theatre
01738 621031 Book online
Fri 10 May Cumbernauld
Cumbernauld Theatre
01236 732887 Book online
Sat 11 May Falkirk
01324 506850 Book online
Tue 14 May Greenock
Beacon Arts Centre
01475 723723 Book online
Wed 15 Edinburgh
0845 874 3001 Book online
Thurs 16 May Glasgow
Cottiers Kelvinbridge
0141 387 4000 Book online
Fri 17 May Dunfermline
Carnegie Hall
01381 602302 Book online
Sat 18 May Glenrothes
Glenrothes Halls Studio Theatre
01592 611101 Book online
Sun 19 May Findhorn
Universal Hall
01309 690110 Book online
Wed 22 May Paisley
Paisley Arts Centre
0141 887 1010 Book online
Fri 24/Sat 25 May Aberdeen
The Lemon Tree
01224 641122 Book online


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