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An Emotionally Compelling Drama in ‘Two Rooms’

Michael Nicholas and Madeleine Farley star in Lee Blessing’s play

Nov. 15, 2016
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A simple, minimal frame dominates the center of the stage. It outlines a vast empty space that serves both as the room in which an American hostage is being kept in Beirut and the room back home that his wife visits to feel connected to him. This is Marquette University Theatre’s staging of Lee Blessing’s drama Two Rooms.

Michael Nicholas is emotionally compelling as a hostage during the late-’80s Lebanese Civil War. Madeleine Farley conjures a tremendous amount of strength as his wife, Lainie, who waits for news on her husband. Farley is accompanied onstage intermittently by Michael Young in the role of a passionate journalist trying to get Lainie to open up about her story and Rene Leech as a State Department representative assigned to the hostage case. 

Blessing’s plot draws on politics and human emotion. Two American citizens try to figure out life in the absence of each other as terrorists, a journalist and the government play strategy in and around their isolation. There’s some provocative weight to the politics, but the truly intense emotional gravity of the play lies in shadows, vacancies and silences. There are moments of explosive rage for Farley, but the true intensity of her performance plays out in cleverly crafted wordlessness. She’s playing a woman who is emotionally disconnected out of fate and emotional necessity. Her silences fuse with the empty spaces onstage, defined as they are around the edges by awkward posturing between people who believe they are doing what is right.

Through Nov. 20 at the Helfaer Theatre, 525 N. 13th St. For tickets, call 414-288-7504.


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