Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | As Is at the Trafalgar Studios
Ginger Hibiscus | As Is at the Trafalgar Studios
Ginger Hibiscus | As Is at the Trafalgar Studios
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07 Jul REVIEW: As Is at the Trafalgar Studios

As Is Bevan Celestine Natalie Burt Steven Webb & Russel MortonTrafalgar Studios 1 July - 1 August 2015It’s early ’80s New York City, and amongst the leathers and aviators of a throbbing gay club scene, there’s chatter of a new, deadly disease capable of selecting it’s victims based exclusively on sexual orientation. Declared a “gay plague” by more than just a few publications, media sensation spreads this misinformation like wildfire, dividing communities, destroying relationships and cleaving families apart. Described as “the first AIDS play,” As Is examines love and loyalty through the eyes of a man diagnosed at a time when care wasn’t effective but was palliative, and considers the very human experience of being handed such a frightening diagnosis.

Tackling a sensitive topic with a direct approach, it is clear from the outset that William D Hoffman writes from a place of experience, his script mature and nuanced with warmth and humour. This balance between the difficult and the lighthearted is struck with the aid of an episodic structure, cycling light and dark scenes without dwelling too fervently, and permitting the play to cover infinitely more – both in content and impact – in 80 minutes than many plays twice its length, maintaining the pace without compromising on emotional impact.

Wary of perpetuating any of the more stubborn untruths still alive 35 years on, As Is is also, crucially, savvy at bridging the gap between 80s beliefs and accepted science with a set of hotline vignettes that not only offer (frankly hilarious) light relief but which squish the myths with a derisory eye roll and a flounce of attitude.

Boasting slick production values, evocative lighting and a series of precise acting performances, most notably from an outstanding lead in Steven Webb, these well-judged elements are all tied together with a flourish by the expert hand of director Andrew Keates.

As Is Steven WebbTrafalgar Studios 1 July - 1 August 2015

More than just “the first AIDS play,” As Is serves as an eloquent exploration of what it means to be alive, to love another person and how it can – just sometimes – be possible to find happiness in even the darkest of corners. A discerning balance struck between humour and poignancy, As Is is more than just a script; it’s a play that breathes, laughs and sighs with humanity.

For tickets and information:
Venue: Tragalgar Studios (Studio 2)
Dates: Until 1st August 2015
Images: Scott Rylander

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
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