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Review: Two Rooms by Acting Up Productions

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Sam Fain as Michael in 'Two Rooms.'
  • Sam Fain as Michael in 'Two Rooms.'

Acting Up Productions at TOTS II, directed by Brian Noffke; through Jan. 22

Lee Blessing's challenging script plays out in two rooms. In one, an American hostage in Beirut, Michael, endures three years of captivity. In another, his wife, Lainie, removes all furniture in an attempt to identify with her husband's daily struggle. On a practically bare stage, the tragic story unfolds, and we are forced to examine our own opinions on the Middle East, American government, foreign policy and the media circus.

Director Brian Noffke and a cast of four extremely talented actors, make simple but effective work of the material. Purposeful lighting design, also done by Noffke, helps to guide our focus in each scene, letting us catch moments as subtle as the glistening of sweat and spit on the American hostage's sallow-looking hand.

As the hostage, Sam Fain brings an everyman quality to this ordinary guy going through an extraordinary situation. He plays Michael as hopeful and resilient, with a boy-next-door presence. LisaMarie Smith, as Lainie the "grieving widow whose husband is not dead yet," is exquisite in her mourning, craftily avoiding the temptation to go over the top in her grief. Her honesty on stage creates a real link to the audience, as she invites us to share in her sadness.

Scot Greenwell, as a story-hungry reporter, and Beverly Roche, as a heartless government contact, are at odds in their arguments over Lainie's course of action. Each so thoroughly commits to their role and viewpoint that, although I came in with my own ideas about the government and the media, I found myself questioning those beliefs as the play went along.

Blessing allows for only one certainty in the script: that we're doomed to make choices blindly, acting with insufficient information. Acting Up Producition's Two Rooms is an ambitiously delicate play. Timely and intimate, it is unquestionably one of the best shows happening now in Indy.

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