note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Beverly Creasey
You cannot help but think of Daniel Pearl as you watch Theatre On Fireís harrowing TWO ROOMS (through May 19 at the Charlestown Working Theater). Itís hard to believe that Lee Blessing wrote the play twenty years ago. Who hasnít wondered what the families of these hostages must be experiencing. Blessing allows us entree into two worlds: We meet the blindfolded prisoner, kidnapped somewhere in the Middle East, as he composes letters in his head----letters that he would send his wife, if he could. Blessing then allows us to meet his wife, coping as best she can, walling herself into a cell of her own making, an empty room with only a rug for her to lie on and imagine what itís like where her husband is.
Blessing knows how to make a political point or two: Both the press and the state department descend on the wifeóbut the story remains heartbreakingly personal. Blessing writes lovely dialogue peppered with elegant avian metaphors. In fact, thoughts do fly past geographical and geo-political barriers and we are privileged to see the two connect, if only in their imagination. Jason Beals and Kate Donnelly each give immensely touching performances as the young couple facing the unimaginable.
Michelle Dowd humanizes the businesslike bureaucrat so well that we are sure she must feel some pain, deep down underneath the hollow platitudes. Craig Houk is utterly convincing as the journalist who gets his story but truly regrets the manipulation. Darren Evans directs with a sure hand and a deft awareness of the stakes, dramatically and historicallyóand he chooses exquisite music to set the ominous tone for the piece.