Sanctuary is playwright Amedeo Astorino's second production at La Mama. Yet not all the kinks have been ironed out in the staging of these two, one act plays. Terminus and The Resort represent the liminal zones where those struggling with their past can rest, and perhaps find solace. This thematic gesture is all they share, however, as The Resort far outshines Terminus in originality, rhythm and performance.

The Resort is a highly impressive short piece that balances humour and depth with precision. In addressing prejudices against women, homosexuality and the mentally ill, a historical perspective is introduced though Valerie (Jae Dee Scott), who periodically breaks into an educative soliloquy. This could appear trite, however Scott possesses a wonderfully sarcastic tone and her injection of spite into each phrase is a constant pleasure. The sexual desires of women, she explains, were once interpreted as an illness: “If Paris Hilton was around back then she would have been put in a straight jacket”.

Despite her obvious smarts, Valerie resides at the psychiatric hospital, The Resort. Cliff (Glen Hancox) is her endearingly foolish friend, who serves as a contrast to the devious nurse, Kyle (Doru Surcel). Manipulation and sadism are at the core of this character and he successfully wriggles under the skin of Cliff and Valerie, whose sexuality both repulse and excite the overly religious Kyle. All three performances in this piece are exceptional. Scott, Hancox and Surcel work their personal styles into the play, which deftly harmonise as an ensemble. Hancox was a particular standout as Cliff, whose quiet intensity proved mesmerising.

Unfortunately Terminus was not executed with the same finesse. While Ian Rooney was strong as the divorced alcoholic, Jack, Karla Silvey was often stilted playing young prostitute Sugar. Both actors did justice to the script, driving a slow-burning tension throughout, yet greater attention to silences would have resulted in a more arresting rhythm.

It is clear that director Bruce Langdon has created a simulating atmosphere for these promising actors, who are set for future collaborations with Astorino. The goal of most playwrights is to achieve honesty and insight in their work. Astorino brings this to the table with little pretension, and if his plays continue to offer the complexity and humour of The Resort, expect to see his name up in lights before too long.


La Mama presents
SANCTUARY
2 one act plays by Amadeo Astorino

Venue: La Mama205 Faraday Street, Carlton
Dates: February 27 - March 9
Times: Wednesdays & Sundays @ 8.45pm, Thursdays to Saturdays @ 6.00pm
Duration: 80 mins approx
Tickets: $20 (full) / $10 (concession)
Bookings: 9347 6142 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (weekdays, 24 hours prior) | www.lamama.com.au

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