GRAPEVINE -- Playwright Lee Blessing wrote Two Rooms in the late '80s, as the war in Lebanon was still raging, but it's no surprise that there seems to have been more revivals of the play in recent years. It deals with an American hostage being held by terrorists in Beirut, while in another room, in Washington, the hostage's wife is being kept "informed" by a State Department diplomat. A journalist is also there, talking to her for a story.
Who's telling the truth, and can we trust the people who we think are on our side?
That's a hall of mirrors that can be relevant in many contexts. Still, given what has happened with America and its relations with the Middle East since 9-11, what has happened in the recent Arab Spring, from Tunisia to the current situation in Syria, and even how the nature of domestic politics has drastically changed, the play feels more and more relevant.
The latest revival comes from Grapevine's Runway Theatre, a community theater that generally sticks to safer material in its main season and then adds a more challenging work to its end-of-season Departure Series. For this entry, it has turned to director Adam Adolfo, artistic director of Artes de la Rosa.
Adolfo adheres to the title of Runway's edgy series and takes a departure from his style. Here, thankfully, he keeps it simple, without clouding his mind with too many ideas. (Unless you count the sound design by Adolfo and Joshua Bradford, called Variations on a Theme by Trent Reznor, in which various versions of the Nine Inch Nails song Hurt is a recurring theme; that's a bit heavy-handed.)
Sean-Michael Cohn is Michael, the hostage who is blindfolded and has his hands tied behind his back the entire time, and Alden Bowers Price plays his wife, Lainie. Parker Fitzgerald is the journalist, Walker, and Melanie Swenson is the American official, Ellen.
Fitzgerald looks too young -- you expect a more seasoned writer -- and Swenson steers away from going the tough-as-nails route, which ultimately makes her less convincing. But Lainie is the crux of the script, and Price keeps the right amount of passion and commitment in the character, never giving up on what turns out to be a love story.
The play would benefit from more heavyweight performances, but it's still a gripping drama that, given its themes, will likely feel relevant and fresh for years to come.