note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Carl A. Rossi
Nia and Others … Ramona Lisa Alexander
Abigail and Others … Lindsey McWhorter
“Shrouded in secrecy, shame and silence, HIV/AIDS ranks as one of the leading causes of death for African Americans between the ages of 24 and 44. … The gay community tackled the disease head on, and their efforts resulted in national legislation and funding for AIDS research and outreach initiatives. But the straight community has often hid from it. It is little surprise, then, that while incidence of the disease has dropped drastically within the gay community, it has exploded among heterosexuals.” --- from The Bay State Banner, reprinted in the program notes.
Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter’s performance piece IN THE CONTINUUM charts the contrasting lives of Nia, from South Central Los Angeles, and Abigail, from Zimbabwe --- they have been impregnated by men who practice unsafe sex with other women, and they and their unborn now carry the HIV virus; Nia and Abigail pass from shock to compromised acceptance given their cultural backgrounds where sexual problems are not publicly discussed. Mss. Gurira and Salter’s script could use some editing (say, fifteen minutes’ worth) to keep the monologues taut, throughout, and from being mere turns, at times, but their writing stings you into awareness of the increasing heterosexual population of this still-incurable disease.
If the evening’s subject matter doesn’t appeal to you, then come for the powerhouse acting of Ramona Lisa Alexander and Lindsey McWhorter in multiple roles --- director Akiba Abaka has freed these dynamos from any emotional distance to play these women to the quick --- apart from two sequences where the actions resemble warm-up exercises ad infinitum, the performance flows as near-dance as much as spoken word. I have always liked Ms. Alexander, so friendly and immediate an actress, and Ms. McWhorter was a delightful revelation (I can seeing her impersonating a young Eartha Kitt in some future cabaret-tribute). On the evening I attended, thanks to audience participation, I found myself playing a toilet --- I kid you, not! --- and you’ll have to attend this CONTINUUM to see why and how for I shan’t tell you: SOMETHING must lure you to this important yet sparsely-populated production…