Dan Noonan's new semiautobiographical script is a minor miracle, avoiding the pitfalls that hobble so many AIDS plays. Melodramatic pity, facile moralizing, and PC proselytizing have no place in this piece about Patrick, a nebbishy HIV-positive hemophiliac searching for love in his doctor's waiting room. Instead Noonan turns a TV-movie premise into a carefully observed tragicomedy about workaday endurance in the face of perpetually crushed expectations. Each of his three HIV-positive characters confronts his or her imagined impending doom in a different but very human way. Patrick settles into comfortable helplessness, gay wannabe activist Joe avoids facing his fears by fighting an intolerant system, and self-loathing former addict Marie hates the world. Noonan packs his characters with contradictory impulses, and director Sarah Whitney coaxes deeply felt performances from her leads in this joint After Midnight-Northminster Players production. Out Among the Dragons needs a rigorous edit and a meaningful ending, but like Tony Kushner, Noonan successfully weaves compelling human sagas into a social fabric. Through 7/10: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 2:30 and 8 PM, Sun 2:30 PM. Northminster Presbyterian Church, Logan Hall, 2515 Central Park, Evanston, 866-468-3401. $15.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Chaz Keller.