There is a lot going on in the one woman show Sanctuary – in fact, too much. Too many wars, too many stories, too many characters. The playwright (and actor), Susanne Sulby, has good intentions in trying to get us to question how we can sit in our cozy kitchens drinking coffee while there are wars and genocide around the world. Yet the play left me more confused than impassioned.
We are taken from a suburban kitchen, to the frontlines of almost every major war or tragic event in the last 60 years, to inside a Middle Eastern prison. These stories worked fairly well, especially the one focusing on a reporter who was the most thoroughly developed character in this play (and seemed to be modeled after CNN’s Christiane Amanpour). But there are other characters who made no sense to me and broke up the play’s sense of urgency. I felt as helpless in trying to understand this play as the playwright seems to feel about what we can do to stop the madness. That said, I applaud Ms. Sulby’s ear for dialect and the director’s use of multi-media was especially effective.
Sanctuary has the makings of an intriguing show, but this version didn’t work for me. The promotional material suggests that the play is about how women seek “sanctuary” during times of war. If this was Ms. Sulby’s intent, the message did not get through to me. I left thinking “make love, not war” and went home and turned on the news. LAR
Lion Theater at Theatre Row, 410 W 42nd Street
Ticket prices: $49
Discounts available: $25 at Broadwaybox and Theatermania, also listed on seat filler sites.
Runs thru: January 23, 2016
Running time: 75 minutes