Political love story "Two Rooms" opens at OC

imageOklahoma Christian University presents an emotional love story that is intellectually engaging in its latest production, “Two Rooms,” a fictional account of the Lebanon hostage crisis. The play is a portrait of one man’s life as a hostage and his wife’s refusal to give up hope, set among the suspense of the U.S. government’s interaction with terrorism in the Middle East.

Senior Carly Conklin, a theater major from Tulsa, directs the play and also designed the set. She chose the play because of the strong script, which was written by Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Lee Blessing.

“Blessing is my favorite playwright, and this has been my favorite play for eight years,” Conklin said. “I think the script is beautifully written. It’s a fictional account of something that probably happened, and the love story is very fascinating.”

According to Conklin, the play helps the audience to have a fuller view of today’s war on terrorism.

“Even though this play was written in the late 1980s, it is still relevant today,” Conklin said.  “Especially living in a post 9/11 world, few people in the younger generations even know about the Lebanon hostage crisis. By the end of the play, you have to decide if you agree with how the situation was handled by those in charge.”

The play only features four characters. Michael, an American professor kidnapped in Beirut, is played by Brett Vanderzee, a sophomore from Tea, S.D. Michael’s wife, Lainie, is played by Taryn Parker, a sophomore from Longview, Texas. Ellen, a state department employee, is played by Emmalee Mattern, a junior from Olathe, Kan. Walker, a journalist, is played by Josh McCoy, a freshman from Wichita Falls, Texas.

The smaller cast requires that the actors focus heavily on dialogue and relationships, which affected casting decisions.

“At the auditions, Taryn and Brett demonstrated great instincts,” Conklin said. “Their first readings and lines were strong, and I could tell they really understood the moments. It was apparent in rehearsals too. The whole cast has been really committed to the project.”

The set for “Two Rooms” is sparse, which helps to put the focus on the characters. The play also features a video projector and the use of professional LED lighting.

Billy Bennyhoff, an Oklahoma Christian alumnus, designed the lighting and donated 12 LED lights to the production. He designs lighting for professional concerts at Toucan Productions in Oklahoma City. Adam Everson, a sophomore from Mesquite, Texas, designed the costumes. 

“Two Rooms” is appropriate for ages 12 and up. It will be produced in Judd Theater on the Oklahoma Christian campus April 8-10 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $7. Admission is free for OC students, employees and residents of Tealridge Manor. Tickets can be reserved by calling 425-5540.