by Willard Manus
Working out of a humble second-story room in a furniture store, the Veterans Center for the Performing Arts has pulled off a theatrical coup with its production of SANCTUARY, a two-person play by the noted Australian writer, David Williamson. Set in the living room of a famous journalist, Robert King (David Ross Paterson), who once reported for Time and CBS on the wars in San Salvador, Guatemala, Cambodia and Desert Storm but has now retired to a soft (and boozy) life in northern Australia.
Confronting him is John Alderston (Mick Thyer), a young, left-wing student who, in the course of writing his master's thesis about King, discovered that his idol had feet of clay. Demanding to know why King failed to tell the whole truth about things like genocide and other atrocities, Alderston accuses him of having built his life on a mound of lies.
King defends his actions and tries to make Alderston understand that, in the real world, journalists are tightly controlled by their corporate bosses and can't take radical positions. An argument about principle vs. compromise follows, with Alderston becoming angrier by the minute. Although he claims the moral high ground, he's also a zealot and a bully. The argument soon begins to heat up, with the two men stripping away each other's defenses, exposing flaws and contradictions as they hurtle inexorably toward a life and death climax.
SANCTUARY is a visceral and powerful drama, one that is powerfully acted and directed (Eric Tucker). No lover of serious theatre should miss it. (446 La Brea Ave, 323-533-2847)