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Review Roundup: The New Group's ONE IN TWO - What Did the Critics Think?

Review Roundup: The New Group's ONE IN TWO - What Did the Critics Think?

The New Group presents Donja R. Love's one in two, featuring Jamyl Dobson, Leland Fowler and Edward Mawere. Directed by Stevie Walker-Webb, plays through January 12 at The Pershing Square Signature Center.

Three young Black queer men are waiting to be chosen. When one of them is, he's forced to live a new reality inside an epidemic, exploring the joys, the gags and the truths of not being defined by his diagnosis. Donja R. Love, inspired by his 10th anniversary of being HIV positive, offers an unflinching portrait of being Black and queer today. With grace and humor, one in two breaks the silence on an experience that's an ongoing reality for so many, and reveals the community that thrives within it.

one in two features Jamyl Dobson, Leland Fowler and Edward Mawere. This production will include Scenic Design by Arnulfo Maldonato, Costume Design by Andy Jean and Lighting Design by Cha See, with Sound Designer to be announced. Casting is by Judy Henderson, CSA. Production Stage Manager is Jakob W. Plummer.

Let's see what the critics are saying...

Laura Collins-Hughes, The New York Times: Is it a spoiler to tell you that this stellar company of actors doesn't take a bow at the end? It's regrettable in a way, because we want to thank them, but this production is after something more profound than applause. This is a play about affirmation and communion and sounding the alarm. It's only on the way out that we get our Playbills, stuffed with an insert that includes a note from the playwright as well as a list of H.I.V./AIDS service organizations and other information. In the lobby, again unobtrusively, sits a basket of bold red AIDS ribbons, there for the taking.

Thom Geier, The Wrap: The cast is quite strong, and Edward Mawere brought real pathos to Donté at my performance. But under Stevie Walker-Webb's direction, the transitions between the various theatrical modes can be jarring. And the more humorous, absurdist sections are so broadly performed that they tend to undercut the cri-de-couer moments, particularly a creaky ending that doesn't land with the heft Love clearly had in mind.

Christian Lewis, Medium: On the surface, the meta-theater of "one in two" bears similarities to "The Inheritance" and "A Strange Loop" - Donja R. Love wrote a play about a character, Donté, who is writing an autobiographical play. While some of this can feel redundant, what makes the framing and breaking of "one in two" so powerful is that it is used as a commentary to talk about narrative, storytelling, and the roles we are given. At a climactic moment, one of the characters refuses to kill themselves, saying they just won't do it anymore, they don't want this role anymore, they want to escape this narrative.

Michael Sommers, New York Stage Review: Solid acting by Edward Mawere in the leading role (at the performance I attended), deftly supported by versatile performances from Jamyl Dobson and Leland Fowler as everybody else, animates the play considerably. Various bits of apt clothes provided by designer Andy Jean enable the actors to quickly take on and off the identities of their assorted characters. The fact that these actors are prepared to tackle their roles in the play depending upon the audience's choice is laudable as well. Produced at the Pershing Square Signature Center by The New Group with its customary excellence, one in two is a lively and smartly crafted look at an abiding critical issue that unfortunately needs to be constantly addressed.

David Finkle, New York Stage Review: No matter Love's focus, he writes one in two as much as a protest as anything else. He positions it as a call for something to be done. He insists on it, not that there's any current evidence for disagreeing with him. When the actors have finished the play, they don't really finish. Love is so serious that he's found a way to make the very act of exiting a matter to reckon with. No further explanation of that here, though. You'll have to discover the unsettling news for yourself.

David Roberts, On Stage Blog: The action of the play is raw, graphic, intense, powerfully cathartic, and disturbing. The men share the shame they feel, the isolation, the difficult encounters with family, the visits to clinics and the support groups, the absurdity of "the right of passage for Black queer men." Mr. Love's focus here is the Black queer HIV+ community. It isn't meant to connect to other communities although it invites a more universal cry for help to end the epidemic and save the Black queer HIV+ community. See it. Do the work.

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