Scot caught in Mumbai siege to see drama on stage

HE WAS the Scots banker who spent more than 40 hours hiding out in a Mumbai hotel after getting caught up in the terror attacks which claimed 166 lives.
A gunman walks through the Chatrapathi Sivaji Terminal railway station. Picture: APA gunman walks through the Chatrapathi Sivaji Terminal railway station. Picture: AP
A gunman walks through the Chatrapathi Sivaji Terminal railway station. Picture: AP

Roger Hunt, who had just left the Oberoi’s restaurant when he saw gunmen open fire, hid out in his 14th floor hotel room while a bloody siege unfolded.

Now the Aberdeenshire-based businessman is about to see his ordeal turned into a new stage play, which will also relive a tragic fishing accident that claimed the life of his brother when he was just 16.

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The ghost of Christopher Hunt, who died 28 years ago, will be one of just three characters in the powerful new play, along with Roger and his wife Irene.

It is billed as an exploration of the impact of international terrorism on the individual, as well as “the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity”.

The 47-year-old told The Scotsman he is braced for a “surreal” experience when the dramatic events of November 2008 are depicted on the stage of a theatre in Inverness this week, predicting “a roller-coaster of emotions”.

The couple are expected to attend a performance this weekend of the show, Be Silent or Be Killed, at Eden Court, after which Roger will relive the harrowing experiences that inspired the show. Its producers hope there will be enough interest in the play to allow them to eventually take the production to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The father-of-three, from Macduff, was working for the Royal Bank of Scotland when he got caught up in the series of co-ordinated attacks, the one at his hotel claiming 32 lives during the course of a three-day siege.

He regularly communicated with his colleagues at the bank’s headquarters in Edinburgh via his Blackberry phone, but avoided answering the phone in his room, fearing that terrorists were trying to find Western targets to kill off.

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Mr Hunt has already published a book recounting his ordeal to help him come to terms with what happened, and his exact words feature heavily in the script of the play, written by Dave Smith and Euan Martin.

Mr Hunt, who now works at Aberdeen Airport, said: “The play has very much come out of the book, which I self-published a couple of years ago. I felt I needed to put something down in written form before I could really move on from what happened. But the approach about a play pretty much came out of the blue.

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“I’ve not been to any of the rehearsals, but I have read the script, and I’m delighted and privileged with what they’ve done with what was in the book. But Irene and I don’t really know what to expect when it is performed, although I imagine it will be a roller-coaster of emotions for us.”

Highland theatre company Right Lines Productions will be taking the show on a national tour after its initial run in Inverness. Euan Martin, whose other plays with Dave Smith have mainly been comedies since they formed their theatre company a decade ago, said: “One of the things we always try to do is look at telling local stories which explore universal themes.

“Roger was just an ordinary down-to-earth guy from the north-east of Scotland who was working on an international scale, and got caught up in an extraordinary situation like this one.

“Everything in the play unfolds inside his hotel room in Mumbai, although we will be using some real footage captured at the time as a backdrop to the performances.”

• Be Silent or Be Killed opens at Eden Court, in Inverness, on 2 May.