Review: Mosaic Theater Company's ONE IN TWO at The Atlas Performing Arts Center

D.C. premiere of Donja Love’s play

By: Jun. 08, 2023
Review: Mosaic Theater Company's ONE IN TWO at The Atlas Performing Arts Center

Before you find your seat in Sprenger Theatre at The Atlas Performing Arts Center, you take a ticket from a dispenser, and gaze at your number. You hold on to this ticket with you during the entire performance, and leave with it as a reminder that those diagnosed with HIV are seen as statistics instead of human beings. 

Mosaic Theater Company’s production of one in two, written by Donja R. Love and directed by Raymond O. Caldwell, is set in a sterile, white waiting room. The emptiness is almost dystopian. Upon the play’s start, a counter continues to climb in the background. The only people in the room are three Black men. They are forced to perform a story repeatedly, not just for the audience, but also for a disembodied presence who gets mad if they try to change the narrative. When the ticket dispenser is broken, they must determine who is 1, 2, or 3. They decide to tell the story of Donte, played by Michael Kevin Darnall, whose world is turned upside after he is diagnosed with HIV.

Michael Kevin Darnall, Ryan Jammaal Swain, and Justin Weaks honor Love’s beautifully written play with their performances. They embody their characters with such grace. They switch seamlessly from playing children curious about their bodies to young adults trying to make sense of the world to the men trapped in an endless play. This role playing “game” builds in intensity with each scene, as the play edges closer to causing someone to use the safe word.

Review: Mosaic Theater Company's ONE IN TWO at The Atlas Performing Arts Center
(L-R) Ryan Jamaal Swain, Justin Weaks, and Michael Kevin Darnall in Donja R. 
Love’s one in two. Photo by Chris Banks.

Donte’s unhealthy alcohol use causes his days (and years) to blur together. He skips out on treatments due to the awful side effects. In these scenes, Darnall channels anger, resentment, fear, and anxiety so well that it vibrates across the stage. The group meetings at the + center between Donte, a “married man,” and Banjii relieve some of this tension, but only for a few minutes. These moments often have some humor mixed in with the sorrow and grief. 

Mosaic Theater’s production of one in two pays homage to the New York City premiere in its design. Scenic designer Nadir Bey creates a similar environment, but provides his own unique twist. Each actor is given a changing room, similar to patients who each have their own room at a doctor’s office. Sierra Young’s direction on the fight scene creates a swift, and surprising ambush, and the intimate scenes are spicy. 

One in two Black men who have sex with other men will be diagnosed with HIV. You might remember the statistics, but will you know who they are or remember who they were? 

Attend this play to honor and remember those who have died of AIDS. Remember that there are survivors who are living, and celebrate their resilience and strength. 

Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission

Top Photo Caption & Credit:  (L-R) Michael Kevin Darnall, Justin Weaks, and Ryan Jamaal Swain in Donja R. Love’s one in two. Photo by Chris Banks.

one in two runs from June 1, 2023 until June 25, 2023 at The Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington D.C. Click Here


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From This Author - Hannah R. Wing

Hannah Wing has an extensive background in editing and publishing. She has held positions ranging from literary magazine editor to web content manager. She has always had a soft spot for theatre and i... Hannah R. Wing">(read more about this author)


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