THE STORY: The two rooms of the title are a windowless cubicle in Beirut, where an American hostage is being held by Arab terrorists, and a room in his home in the United States, which his wife has stripped of furniture so that, at least symbolically, she can share his ordeal. In fact the same room serves for both and is also the locale for imaginary conversations between the hostage and his wife, plus the setting for the real talks she has with a reporter and a State Department official. The former, an overly ambitious sort who hopes to develop the situation into a major personal accomplishment, tries to prod the wife into taking umbrage at what he labels government ineptitude and inaction, while the State Department representative is coolly efficient, and even dispassionate, in her attempt to treat the matter with professional detachment. It is her job to try to make the wife aware of the larger equation, of which the taking of a hostage is only one element, but as the months inch by it becomes increasingly difficult to remain patient. The wife is finally goaded by unforeseen developments to speak out against government policy and, in so doing, triggers the tragic series of events that brings the play to its startling conclusion. In the end there are no winners, only losers, and the sense of futility and despair that comes when people of goodwill realize that logic, compassion, and fairness have become meaningless when dealing with those who would commit such barbarous acts so willingly.
Provocative and compelling, this arresting work deals with a subject much in the minds of contemporary society—the taking of innocent hostages by political terrorists. First presented by California’s innovative La Jolla Playhouse, the play illuminates both the numbing agony of the one detained and also the helpless fury of those who are left behind—loved ones impatient for something to be done, and officials who feel they must be guided by logic rather than emotion. “…the playwright’s eye is penetrating…[Mr. Blessing] reaffirms his authority with timely political questions” —NY Times. “…a compact and powerful exploration of the hostage-taking of Beirut.” —Drama-Logue.