When Kemp receives a phone call from an aunt who claims she is “old and dying”, he travels across the country to pay her a visit; but she’s not going just yet. As the seasons change and the weather turns from bad to good again, Kemp’s own dysfunctional youth and thwarted dreams come to light in a delightful and mordant black comedy.
The two rooms of the title are a windowless cubicle in Beirut where an American hostage is being held by Arab terrorists and a room in his home in the United States, which his wife has stripped of furniture so that, at least symbolically, she can share his ordeal. In fact the same room serves for both and is also the locale for imaginary conversations between the hostage and his wife, plus the setting for the real talks she has with a reporter and a State Department official. The former, an overly ambitious sort who hopes to develop the situation into a major personal accomplishment, tries to prod the wife into taking umbrage at what he labels government ineptitude and inaction, while the State Department representative is coolly efficient, and even dispassionate, in her attempt to treat the matter with professional detachment. It is her job to try to make the wife aware of the larger equation of which the taking of a hostage is only one element, but as the months inch by it becomes increasingly difficult to remain patient. The wife is finally goaded by unforeseen developments to speak out against government policy and, in so doing, triggers the tragic series of events that brings the play to its startling conclusion. In the end there are no winners, only losers, and the sense of futility and despair that comes when people of goodwill realize that logic, compassion and fairness have become meaningless when dealing with those who would commit such barbarous acts so willingly.
Don is a coach who believes that winning is what is most important in baseball, and he is all about the game. Michael is his assistant coach, a businessman who believes that kids should have fun when they play baseball. These conflicting personalities instantly clash. Don’s kid is the star pitcher of the team, and Michael’s kid can barely remember to keep his shoelaces tied. In addition, there are extramarital affairs going on (though the truth of them is well-hidden), and Michael’s job is not all that it seems.
A famous concert violinist is stricken with a disease which necessitates her retirement from the stage and which threatens her marriage as well. The play is structured as a series of interviews between the violinist and her psychiatrist in which she tries to cope with her illness and its effect on her life.