Raw is the edgiest thing I’ve seen at the Fringe. Not because it is the only play exploring pressing issues concerning queer people — Soulo deals with coming out and suicide, Grey Ground addresses bullying in schools — but because it explores its issue in the harshest, most shocking way.
A man who has only safe sex beats the odds and contracts HIV. Unable to deal with the difficult emotions surrounding his infection, he gets drunk and has unsafe sex with about a dozen men. The fallout brings up issues surrounding disclosure of status, moral and legal blame, depression, rage and what to do next.
The dialogue was frequently stilted, full of strangely hackneyed phrases, monologue where there should be dialogue, ham-handed insults and laboured jokes. There were very funny moments, and the actors gave admirable performances considering the dialogue they were working with. The rest of it was well structured, poignant, socially relevant and intelligently conceived. Those who have given extensive thought to HIV/AIDS will find it particularly clever, and those who haven’t would benefit from this introduction. —Jeremy Willard
Raw runs till Sat, July 14 at Robert Gill Theatre, 214 College St. fringetoronto.com
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