Honest Theatre opens its second season with the Chicago premiere of Jayson Akridge’s thrilling new…
Honest Theatre’s “Two Rooms” Gives Quite A View
Reviewed by: S. L. Crawley
Two Rooms, written by Lee Blessing, is a love story doomed by terrorist forces. The wife of a hostage taken by political terrorists, Lainie (Kelly Helgeson) struggles to cope with the harsh reality that her husband Michael (Britain Willcock) may not make it out alive. Although originally written in 1988, Blessing’s play is still very much relevant in today’s world of war and terror.
Laine has gone to great lengths to ensure that her husband has not been forgotten – not by the government and, to a lesser extent, the media. She’s even imprisoned herself in a room, much like that of her captive husband, sharing his pain while feeling closer to him, as she lays on a makeshift bed she imagines is his own. The plain yet provocative set allows the characters to focus on their emotions. Each performer dives deep into their role and gives the audience a sense that they may actually have a personal connection to the piece.
Lainie receives regular, unwelcome visits by the Ellen VanOss (Sharon Biermann), a lightly sympathetic government representative who assures Lainie they are doing everything in their power to bring her husband home. But government inaction due to policies preventing negotiation with terrorists brings about Walker Harris (Sean Cowan), a crusading reporter who tries to get Lainie to speak out against this policy that is fueling the uncertainty of her husband’s return. And although Walker is dedicated to his own self interests, when VanOss proclaims that “a government must have secrets,” coupled with her insistence on Lainie keeping silent while imploring her to get rid of Walker – you can’t help but hope Lainie will listen to Walker and shout the truth from the rooftops.
Director Chad Gilliland gives fluidity to the characters’ visitations, drawing the audience smoothly into each scene. You feel as though you are there with Michael, that you understand why Lainie has staged this room where real encounters with her lost love take place. She is on a mission, grappling with moral questions throughout the show, while Kelly Helgeson’s delivers a very poignant performance.
I highly recommend this show for two reasons – the exceptional performances and the important message it brings about. For the past several decades, thousands of US citizens have been taken by terrorists. Behind each and every one of those captured is a family eagerly waiting to see their loved ones again, and it seems that the government isn’t doing enough to bring them home.
Two Rooms by Honest Theatre. April 22nd – May 8 2016 at Chase Park Theatre. For tickets visit www.honesttheatre.com Approximate running time: 90 minutes. Pay-What-You-Can or $25 Reserved Seating Available