- CHARITY BENEFIT
I have always been a fan of Lee Blessing’s poetic plays that speak to the issues most cannot and will not address. I had only read Blessing’s Two Rooms and wanted to see it come to life as complex political issues put a face on terroristic kidnapping. The longest and most well known hostage Terry Anderson’s daughter Sulome wrote for T2C before starting off on her journey and landing as an Editorial Researcher for Foreign Policy. Two Rooms, was written in 1988, as a couple of teachers in Beirut share each other’s rooms. Michael has been kidnapped and is being held prisoner by terrorists. In America his wife, Lanie, lives in a self-created prison to experience his pain and his captivity. In their minds they write letters to each other.
As Lanie seeks to gather information from Ellen, the State Department employee assigned to her, her attempts to bring her husband home become futile. When Walker, a newspaper reporter steps in, conflict begins as the press take her story to heart. Angering the powers that be, Michael becomes just another victim in America’s pawn game.
Director Jamie Richards lets his actors fend for themselves and some do better than others. Curran Connor never connects to the fear, the danger and the isolation one must feel in this situation, so we never see his pain that leads to the desire each of them feel in their dreams. Conner is too Zen. The find here is Bree Michael Warner, who builds Lanie’s moments to her resolve. Ms. Warner is powerful as she falls apart and we sympathize with her every step of the way. The theater company’s artistic director, Victor Lirio, portrays Walker, a reporter, and that is always bad news. In this case less bad, but still not great. Dawn Evans comes off a bore and we never really see how she feels. There is no conflict between the woman who has to lie, and then tell another woman how to act, how to think, how to feel and how to be.
The fight against bureaucracy, the violence in Lebanon and the fact hostages are still being held makes this play relevant and worthwhile. May another Terry Anderson never happen again!
Two Rooms Diverse City Theater Company at the Lion on Theater Row 410 West 42nd Street until Aug 25th.