(Best of the Capital Fringe for the riveting and steamy dancing and for an important message)
Martin, Love, Sex & Rhythm puts the positive in HIV-positive! It takes a look at love and sex between men now, in this the golden age of Grindr and addresses issues of open relationships, mixed sero-status couples, HIV shaming and Truvada – a drug used pre-exposure to prevent HIV infection) with a reminder to keep an open mind.
Martin (Writer/Choreographer Alvaro Maldonado) and Manny (Co-Choreographer Zac Norton) are dancers and friends and HIV-negative. Manny nurses a not so secret crush on Martin who has been in an eight year relationship with HIV-positive Shawn (Victor Maldonado). When Shawn and Martin agree to open up their relationship, Martin starts fooling around with Jordan (Ryan Alan Jones), a young, also HIV-positive man. This is a little much for Manny to take who equates both being positive and being non-monogamous with being dirty. Despite his convictions Manny attends a sex party that Martin and Shawn are at and whispers a little coitus interruptus into the ear of the guy who Shawn’s hooked up with. This shames Shawn and drives a wedge between Martin and Manny. Things start to heat up between Manny and Jordan and Manny violates his “no more than five hookups with someone” agreement with Shawn. Shawn becomes increasingly dependent on party drugs. Jordan gets on Martin’s nerves and makes him realize he doesn’t want to risk his relationship of eight years particularly when his partner needs him most. For the most part it’s a happy ending with even Manny coming around after having a hangover epiphany.
Music is central to this production by Ballet Teatro Internacional, not just as part of the lives of these men but in effectively moving the story forward. Not all the moments work, some moments come out of nowhere and the script occasionally dips into melodrama but the cast is so earnest, amiable and well, sexy that all is forgiven.
What definitely does work though are the dance numbers! Alvaro Maldonado and Zac Norton’s choreography is a thing of beauty. It’s athletic and graceful and very, very sexy and worth the price of admission.
Running Time: 60 minutes.
Martin, Love, Sex & Rhythm playing through July 27, 2014 at the Lang Theatre at Atlas Performaing Arts Center – 1333 H St., N.E., in Washington, DC. For information and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe page.
Preview article on DCMetroTheaterArts.