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Two Rooms

Lee Blessing's play involving an American hostage in Beirut, is given a sensitive and beautifully acted revival.

By New York City
Michael Laurence in Two Rooms
(© Aaron Epstein)
Michael Laurence in Two Rooms
(© Aaron Epstein)
While Lee Blessing's play Two Rooms, currently being given a sensitive and beautifully acted revival by the Platform Theatre Group at the Lion Theater, is set in the recent past, the political backdrop of the story has not changed very much in the ensuing years. The play involves the taking of an American hostage in Beirut, while back in the United States, his wife must decide if she should trust the State Department to work behind the scenes to set him free or go public in an effort to embarrass the government through media pressure to get her husband safely home.

The true impact of the piece depends upon the effectiveness of the high intensity love story that stands at its center, and it's a credit to the talented four person cast -- Adinah Alexander, Patrick Boll, Angela Christian, and Michael Laurence -- that the play continues to provide an open door to both that place of horror where innocent people are victims of a world gone mad and, at the same time, that place of exquisite love that can survive such emotional torture.

The politics of the piece largely come via the State Department's representative, played sharply with a cold-hearted efficiency by Alexander, and a newspaperman, played by Boll with a complex mixture of compassion and ambition, who clearly believes the government will not help the beleaguered wife -- and who also knows a good story when he sees one.

At the literal heart of the drama is the young married couple. When we first meet the man (Laurence, ultimately as vulnerable as he is quietly heroic), he is in an empty room, beaten, bound, and blindfolded -- yet writing a letter out loud to the woman he loves and desperately clinging to his sanity. Meanwhile, his wife (the deeply affecting Christian) is also in an empty room, having rid her husband's office of every stick of furniture. It is, of course, the same room (created by set designer Kevin Judge and evocatively lit by Thom Weaver). In an ethereal way, the two lovers transcend their enforced separation by imagining each other so intensely that they feel as if they are communicating.

The drama is heightened during the play by both the passage of time --months of captivity turn into years -- and a sudden event in the Middle East that just might provide the opportunity, if properly handled, to get our poor hero home. Director Peter Flynn effectively keeps the tension high throughout the play, which can be tricky in a work that is more talk than action.

In the end, Two Rooms reminds us not just that war is hell, but that life and love can become even more precious when caught in its onslaught.


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