'Extraordinary Chambers' opens at Geffen Playhouse, looking at Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge

Khmer Rouge survivors
Khmer Rouge survivors Eugene Morita

KPCC recently reported on local Cambodians who hope to visit Phnom Penh later this year to possibly testify in a trial that could last three years. Several former Khmer Rouge leaders go before a United Nations-backed tribunal, charged with genocide and crimes against humanity dating back to the 1970s’ “Killing Fields.” As many as two million Cambodians died through executions, starvation and disease.

Tonight the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood opens “Extraordinary Chambers.” That’s also the name of the courthouse where the tribunal takes place later this year.

The story hits close to home for Cambodian-American actor Francois Chau.

“I probably either would’ve been sent to one of the killing fields, or who knows, I might have been one of the Khmer Rouge people themselves," says Chau, "so it’s very interesting to think back about what might have happened had I stayed there.”

Chau, who left Cambodia as a young boy (and recently appeared as Dr. Cheng on "Lost"), portrays Dr. Heng, a high-powered man suspected of being a former Khmer Rouge official who might soon be indicted. The play focuses on an American couple there on business who must decide whether the salvation of one life is worth sacrificing the justice of many.

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