A World Premiere.
By Karen Hartman.
Directed by Chay Yew.
At Victory Gardens Theater, Chicago.
Powerful dramatization of the tragedy of hemophiliac s getting AIDS from contaminated blood.
Karen Hartman is foremost political playwright with the skills to take a human crisis and make that into a powerful drama as she blends the struggle of two people to keep folks alive during a crisis from a new medical problem. Hartman weaves a most personal view from a father who struggles to keep his twin hemophiliac boys alive and their dedicated doctor who prescribes a new miracle drug to solve the ‘clotting factor’ that is needed to stop bleeding. Effectively using a documentary style to explain about hemophiliac and how medical science advances treatment as pharma companies create a product to eliminate the need for blood transfusions. Since AIDS was unknown in the 1970’s blood donors, gay men etc. didn’t know they may be infected, the blood supply became contaminated before anyone knew.
In San Diego in 1976, Ray (James Vincent Meredith), a newly single parent of twin hemophiliac boy spends his time dedicated to keeping his boys alive. He spends time with endless trips to the hospital, with rigorous testing and frequent blood transfusions for his boys.
Things change for the better when Roy meets Roz (Mary Beth Fisher), a caring doctor who specializes in treating hemophiliac patients. She give hope for Ray’s boys with a new miracle drug that allows the boys to give themselves injections rather than a complete blood transfusion. Can this drug be the salvation for the boys?
This story, in a well structured 90 minute one act, moves back and forth from 1976-78 to 1991 when catastrophe hits one of Roy’s sons. We see how and why lack of knowledge, political will and pharma greed all contributed to the death of thousands of hemophiliac patients.
During the 15 years that Dr. Roz is treating Ray’s sons, they strike up a a relationship. But in the 1991 tragedy, Ray turns bitter against Roz. This marvelously structured drama is a profound story of love, trust, sacrifice, guilt and ultimately forgiveness between friends. This little know story of the 1980’s plight of hemophiliacs is a tragedy that should be a cautionary tale for medical research.
Roz and Ray is a wonderful two-hander featuring compelling, honest and in depth performances by two of the finest actors in Chicago. James Vincent Meredith has the sincerity and honesty as the committed father. Mary Beth Fisher displays the charisma, the purpose and the optimistic leadership of a dedicated medical professional. The reconciliation scene was powerful as truthful.
Roz and Ray is sad play that makes us mad at how government, the medical establishment and big pharma place indifference and greed ahead of humanity. This wonderful play is a cautionary tale to be remembered. Roz and Ray is one of the best shows of 2016.
Date Reviewed: November 19, 2016.
For more info checkout the Roz and Ray page at theatreinchicago.com.
At Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln, Chicago, IL, call 773-871-3000, www.victorygardens.org, tickets $15 – $60, Tuesdays thru Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 3 & 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through December 11, 2016.