Theatre Review: In the Continuum

HIV/AIDS issues in the arts has been done a lot of times and some would think that the whole thing has become a little stale. the issues still exist but the appetite for it all among the masses is waning.

Danai Gurira and Nicole Salter’s In The Continuum is a refreshing take on the HIV/AIDS narrative. It is a clear departure from the norm while making sure that it remained as distinctly human as possible.

In summary it tells the parallel stories of two women – Abigail Murambe from Zimbabwe and Nia James, a teenager living in the less glamorous side of Los Angeles –  who never enter each others worlds but pretty much face the same issues. They both get pregnant and contract HIV.

The production in itself is very good. The lighting lends ably to the show and the sound, bar a few timing issues is well done. The powerful performances by the two actresses Rutendo Chugudu (Nia + 4 characters) and Sandra Chidawanyika (Abigail + 5 characters) are a compliment to the story. Chigudu’s monologue towards the end is pitch perfect while Chidawanyika’s embodiment of her character throughout is brilliant.

The story and concept behind it is great. The only thing that was a bit of concern was that the Zimbabwean side came across as a bit too comical. There were a few funny moments on the American side but it seemed as if the balance was not quite there.

I think that were also slight problems with continuity. The story is set pre-2009 but it doesn’t fully set us in that period at least on the Zimbabwe side.  It comes across as a bit generic. I guess the use of the Rick Ross song for the American side gives it a a circa date but that is not reinforced on the other side.

However none of this takes away from a piece of art that is well-presented. It is easy to see why the play has won so many awards.

In the Continuum is on a national tour and is currently running until  26 November at Theatre In The Park.