by Claire Moodey · August 15, 2014
Joe Norton's premiere of The Truing at the New York International Fringe Festival is a production not to be missed. The play centers around the story of Gil (played by the charming and talented Steven Hope), a long time rider in the Boston-NY AIDS Rides and a proud “Positive Pedlar” whose recent heart attack prevented him from riding. Gil chooses to participate in the AIDS Ride instead as a Staff member on the “Water + Ice” team with his best friend and roommate, Skip (Kathryn Gerhardt). On the ride we meet a cast of endearing and frustrating characters who all wind up stranded at Campsite 1 on the three day ride.
Douglas Hall's expert direction was clean and precise-the action clipped along and the characters quickly felt like new and old friends. I found myself eagerly following their antics, memories and struggles. The production is a bit campy—both in setting and tone, but the effect is endearing. The jokes are easy and delightful and if for no other reason, you should see The Truing for Billy Hipkins' performance (not to mention costuming) as the queen on the ride, Chickie.
A funny and touching well-written show, The Truing offers a wonderful opportunity for generations of New Yorkers to come together and pay tribute to the journey of the fight against AIDS, homophobia, and society in general, as Norton notes in the program. A love song to a radical community-building ride of resistance and hope, The Truing gives the soul a little tune-up, not just the bike lovingly tended onstage in the staff mechanic and social worker Doc's hands (Joel Mark Mijares). I was happy to find the house pretty full and a diverse audience. I was happy to count myself in the audience, honoring the memory of the many beautiful people who have lost their lives fighting AIDS, in solidarity with those continuing to fight. This piece is a beautiful piece of theater, a beautiful memorial, and takes the ever-ripe opportunity to knit the experiences of the recent past into the seed of our immanent future. In case it hasn't become wildly apparent: I highly recommend The Truing, but you should know, I'm biased: I bike commute. I laughed, I cried, and I rode my bike home wishing I had a flag to wave in solidarity.