Review by Willard Manus

The title of Athol Fugard's new play is bitterly ironic. The fall of apartheid in South Africa was supposed to be followed by the triumph of freedom, equality and brotherly love in Nelson Mandela's new "rainbow" nation. But, as VICTORY shows so convincingly, the opposite happened. Things are pretty much the same in South Africa: the whites live well and the blacks badly. It makes for anger and resentment, not to speak of violence and crime, on the part of the disenfranchised.

Fugard explores South Africa's continuing, ever-worsening descent into darkness and disillusion in VICTORY, now in its American premiere at the Fountain Theatre. The hour-long hostage drama is set in the comfortable, affluent home of an elderly white professor named Lionel (the admirable Morlan Higgins). Two black teenagers break into the house one night: Freddie (Lovensky Jean-Baptiste) and his girlfriend, Vicky (Tinashe Kajese). The latter's late mother worked as a maid for Lionel for many years and often brought Vicky with her.

Fueled by booze and drugs, the youngsters begin to trash the place in a desperate search for money, only to be confronted by the gun-toting Lionel, who is profoundly shocked to discover that it is Vicky, his beloved surrogate daughter, who has targeted him. A longtime foe of apartheid, he has always thought of himself as liberal and compassionate, but he learns otherwise from the intruders, who force him to confront his own smugness and shortsightedness where race and poverty are concerned.

As for Freddie and Vicky, their blighted, tormented souls are also bared as the play drives toward its bloody, violent conclusion. VICTORY is vintage Fugard--muscular, visceral drama with something to say. Predictability is its biggest problem, but the production can still be recommended, especially for its taut acting and direction. Travis Gale Lewis' impressive set is another important factor. Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave. Call 323-663-1525 or go to