Victory Gardens Theater’s Roz and Ray Review – Intimate and Compelling

Victory Gardens ROZ AND RAY-5
James Vincent Meredith Liz Lauren

Roz and Ray—An AIDS Story

Victory Gardens Theater’s world premiere of Karen Hartman’s Roz and Ray is a heartbreaking, yet always subtle, look at a section of a national crisis rarely dramatized or even talked about.  The average audience member will certainly be familiar with the basic history of the AIDS crisis, but most will not have heard about this particular narrative within that story.

The play focuses on Dr. Roz Kagan, a pediatrician specializing in hemophilia during the early stages of the AIDS crisis, and Ray Leon, the father of two boys being treated by Dr. Kagan.  Because of extensive use of donated blood, a staggering 90% of severe hemophiliacs died from AIDS in the late 1970s to mid 1980s.  The relationship between Kagan and Leon is explored across approximately 15 years and is looked at as both a typical interaction between two people, as well as how relationships are impacted by the world and outside factors.  Even with all that going on between the two characters, the play still manages to weave in the story of the facts of what was going on in the world in a graceful manner.

Excellent Acting

Mary Beth Fisher and James Vincent Meredith excel portraying complicated people in the most dire of situations.

The main characters, and only characters actually seen throughout the play, are portrayed so naturally by Mary Beth Fisher and James Vincent Meredith one may forget what they are watching was actually scripted.  Watching two actors who work so well together while only having each other to work with is a rare, and audience-pleasing, experience.

Roz and Ray is essentially a series of conversations, mostly between the two main characters.  While that may sound dull, it is decidedly not.  When a writer can create something so compelling by simply portraying the progression of a relationship while still managing to keep the devastating events around them as a main focus,any theatre enthusiast should jump at the chance to partake in the pleasure that is watching it unfold on stage.

Victory Gardens ROZ AND RAY-3
James Vincent Meredith, Mary Beth Fisher Liz Lauren

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Top Pick For: Drama lovers and knowledge seekers.

Not recommended for: Those seeking a light-hearted night of theatre.

When:

Runs through December 11, 2016
Tuesday - Friday at 7:30PM
Saturday at 3:00PM and 7:30PM
Sunday at 3:00PM

Where:

Victory Gardens Biograph Theater
2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

Tickets:

$20-$60
Students just $15
773-871-3000
tickets@victorygardens.org
http://boxoffice.printtixusa.com/victorygardens/eventcalendar/

Photo:

Liz Lauren

 

 

 

An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago.

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