An admirable revival of Frank McGuinness's Tony-nominated play from the early 1990s about Western hostages in Lebanon comes courtesy of a brand-new theater company called The TRUF and the Canal Park Playhouse. Staging this play in the post-9/11 era gives it an added dimension, a kind of perverted nostalgia for the days when terrorism often meant the sufferings of a small number of individuals rather than large-scale mass murder. Celebrity hostages like Terry Waite personified the twisted inhumanity that radicalized humans were capable of inflicting upon innocent victims.
With the 9/11 attacks, what had been a struggle against terrorism became a war, with all the blinding destruction of endless bombings and secret drone strikes. This puts a new historical framework around McGuinness's drama, with the perhaps contradictory effects of distancing it from our sensibilities while bringing us, if anything, closer to the McGuinness's brilliantly drawn characters – Edward, the Irish journalist (Timothy Riley); Michael, the Englishman, a professor proficient in Old and Middle English (Alex Teachey); and Adam, an American doctor (director Justin Lauro has stepped into that role after the loss of a cast member).
As the weeks and months go by the characters try with on-and-off success to keep themselves calm and sane by singing, playing games, exercising, second-guessing their unseen (by us) captors, and fantasizing out loud. Dependencies ("As long as you are here, I am here") mix with conflicts arising from their own characters and especially their nationalities. McGuinness has much to say about how a common language doesn't imply a common cultural perspective. Language itself is a major theme too; Edward takes offense when Michael refers to his Irish speech as a "dialect," insisting that the Irish have in fact done better with their adopted tongue than the English themselves. The well-spoken Michael himself bemoans the way his "language has gone to pot since meeting you both."