The Experiences of Black Queer Men Living with HIV on Full Display in 'one in two'
“If current HIV diagnoses rates persist, about 1 in 2 Black men who have sex with men (MSM) and 1 in 4 Latino MSM in the United States will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime,” according to the CDC in a press release from 2016.
This startling statistic was the impetus for Black queer playwright Donja R. Love to begin writing the first draft of “one in two” on the notes app of his iPhone. Now running at Atlanta’s Out Front Theatre through April 1, “one in two” shines a light on the people behind a statistic and the strength of a community disproportionately impacted by HIV.
Three Black queer men sit in an ethereal waiting room. One is about to be chosen to live the unforgiving story of a man diagnosed with HIV, struggling to be defined by more than his status.
Time Out NY describes “one in two” as a raw, intense, and surreal exploration of what it’s like to be a queer African-American man with HIV…a blunt wake-up call that the epidemic is far from over.”
Brilliantly directed by J.L. Reed, Love’s words are brought to life onstage with tenderness and fierce urgency through searing performances by Michael Ward, Patrick Hamilton, and Robert King Jr. With a run time of 90 minutes and no intermission, the talented trio takes the audience on a journey that encapsulates the fear, despair, and hard-earned joy experienced by Black queer men living with HIV.
"By virtue of their roles, Hamilton and King get to showcase a wider range than Ward does, switching from intensity to levity as they morph into nurses, lovers, mothers, support group members, bartenders and a range of other characters. Ward, however, slowly sinks into his character as Donte falls deeper into depression. He has particularly strong chemistry with Hamilton — who may be the most versatile actor out of the bunch — as many of the vignettes have them acting together under a variety of different circumstances.
King has his dramatic moments, but for much of the play, he serves as the comic relief. His natural charm and comedic timing help to introduce some levity even as the play delves head-first into some very grim discussions about how the stigmas around HIV keep Black men isolated and erode their sense of self-worth."-Luke Evans, ARTS ATL
While the experiences of Black queer men living with HIV are largely ignored in Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” and Larry Kramer’s “A Normal Heart,” Love centers our experiences in “one in two,” and the result is simultaneously jarring and achingly beautiful. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
Run, don’t walk to see “one in two” at Out Front Theatre before it closes on April 1, 2023.