“In the Continuum” is the Goodman Theatre’s presentation of co-playwrights and performers Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter’s piece concerning the subject of black women and HIV infection, a work originally seen at New York’s Primary Stages and Perry Street Theatre and which has toured extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad since. Among the dozen or so characters that the two actresses bring to life are a Zimbabwean television professional pregnant with her second child (Gurira) and a 19-year black woman from South Central Los Angeles (Salter) unexpectedly carrying her first. Both characters have been infected with the HIV virus. And both have their “perfect” yet selfish partners to thank for this, in Africa an upstanding-within-the-community husband and in America an athletically gifted high school boyfriend. Ultimately, the points made are clear—despite being a world apart in terms of both geography and maturity, these two HIV-positive women of color will share a grim fate of personal denial, cultural misinformation, family ostracism and abandonment. But while the subject matter is fresh “In the Continuum” is ultimately the theatrical equivalent of a public service announcement, noteworthy for its message, admirable for its passion yet at best adequate as a total dramatic experience. One of the problems is that at an intermission-less one hour and forty-five minutes in length, the piece is overlong by at least thirty and could use editing. Another is that despite several nifty patches of writing, the piece is undistinguished in its overall dramaturgy—Gurira and Salter’s contrasting monologues vacillate in a predictable pattern and draw obvious parallels between one another, but rarely build theatrical potency from their arrangement. And for a piece that tries to bring awareness to the oft-neglected subject of African and African-American women infected with HIV by their promiscuous male partners, I find it surprising that the piece itself would neglect to illuminate one of the biggest reasons behind this promiscuity—the controversial issue of men of color on the down-low. After all, if black women are the victims of ignorant actions, then black men—some of whom continue to have unprotected gay sex while maintaining girlfriends and heterosexual marriages—are certainly the victims of an intolerant community that has yet to accept the idea of homosexuality. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
This production is now closed.