You’d think that after doing a show for two years, having everything fit together perfectly would be mere routine.
Almost, perhaps, but not completely. Not that it’s disturbing too much, I just noticed.
The show -is- actually quite good, even though it’s a bit too long or, rather, as a too long middle bit, a strong opening and a very strong if not saddening ending.
Two actresses, Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter, also both authors of the play, are a middle-class wife and mother in Zimbabwe, the other what I suspect is a teenager, African American, in Los Angeles, whose lives get messed up after discovering they’ve been infected with HIV.
What makes the play interesting is that you’re actually treated to two very decent one-man shows which alternate but sometimes occur simultaneously on stage, with strong parallels and sometimes interactions.
Both actors play a range of characters, within their own story line, which Danai Gurira, the Zimbabwean, pulls of a bit better.
The parallel between the two stories is that the two women, although living in two very different cultures, with vastly different economic and social climates, both struggle with the same central issue of how to move ahead while their whole life has been turned upside down, their opportunities and future chances tied to getting hold of, or hanging on to, a male provider, in both cases the man who infected them.
Apparently, in some US shows, the program to the show came with a glossary of Zimbabwean, Shona, words used onstage.
This show was sponsored by the culture department of the American consulate here in Johannesburg. After the show, the American consul said a few words and then invited, what I assumed was, the director of the theater. Clearly reluctant to speak at first, the man delivered a story about how important the show was in terms of our understanding the disease and the social stigma attached to it. Etcetera etcetera. He talked for over five minutes, maybe even ten, and didn’t once mention either ‘HIV’ or ‘AIDS’.