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In the Valley of the Shadow

rogue machine theatre · Ages 12+ · world premiere · United States of America

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June 19, 2017 stage raw and la bitter lemons original article

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My overall impression

Inspired by the tragic shooting at the Pulse night club in Orlando, Katherine Cortez crafts a delicate and heart-wrenching story about identity, love and, yes, hate. The characters move seamlessly between flashbacks and the present under Elina de Santos’s sharp and fluid direction. We follow Rafi (Dylan Arnold), a young man coming to terms with his sexuality. Having been raised by ultra-conservative Christian parents, he was taught to believe homosexuality is a sin. Now, he’s fallen in love with Enrique (Ethan Rains) who has brought him to the nightclub he works at to meet his “family”. As the horrifying shooting took place, Rafi and Enrique are in opposite parts of the club.

We sit with Rafi at the police station as he nervously checks his phone and waits to hear if Enrique survived. The entire ensemble bring this tightly woven play into fully-lived depth. Perhaps the play’s greatest strength is its humour and humanity, which allows you to process the play from a place of compassion rather than from fear and anger. Which is indicative of the title — from Psalms 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” May we all fear no evil.

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