TWO ROOMS by Lee Blessing is set in the 1980s in two rooms, one in Washington and one in Beruit. The themes the play explores, however, are just as relevant today as they were then – perhaps showing how little interactions amongst political expediency, media, and personal tragedy have changed.
One room is a windowless cubicle in which the character Michael, played by Nick Dale, is held hostage by Arab terrorists. Back in Washington, Michael’s wife Lainie, played by Laura Huxley, has stripped his home office, covered the windows, and has a small carpet on the floor. Lainie and Michael speak to each other across a void of space and time until finally they are, in a sense, reunited.
Their personal love story, movingly portrayed by the actors is powerfully contrasted with the cold impersonal “work” motives of the other two characters.
The government official Ellen, played very coolly by Coralie Bywater, claims she is personally concerned with Laine. However, complete with false grin and platitudes of hope, she then states that the greater good – as decided by the government – is paramount. The journalist Walker (Eli King), whilst seemingly concerned with exposing the truth is also finally detached from the unfolding of the personal struggles of Michael and Lainie. Even the clothes that they wear, Michael’s outfits slowly deteriorating, contrasting with the elegant business outfits of Ellen, reinforce the difference in their status.
The artistic assistant Jeremy Hastings, lighting designer Christopher Page and assistant stage manager Gabriel Yakub have worked together with the director/designer Duncan Maurice to create a dim, often desolate atmosphere on stage enhancing the actors’ moods and thoughts. Evocative background music and the sparse use of projected images add to the portrayal of the story.
TWO ROOMS plays at the Tap Gallery until August 4, a worthwhile play which will continue to be as relevant as long as the Middle East situation remains volatile.