Following a sell-out run at the Finborough Theatre in 2013, As Is by William M. Hoffman is transferring to Trafalgar Studios 2.
Directed by Andrew Keates, the play will open on 3rd July (previews from 1st July) for a limited run until 1st August 2015.
Steven Webb (House of Boys/The Inbetweeners) and David Poynor (The Tempest/Peter Pan) will lead the cast. The pair previously starred together in The History Boys at the National Theatre in 2006.
Using humour and sensitivity, As Is shatters the apathy and ignorance surrounding AIDS in the 1980s. Celebrating its 30th anniversary since first opening in New York, where it was hailed by critics as the most powerful play of the year, the significance and urgency of As Is has become even greater as more people than ever before are contracting HIV.
This production provides a vital platform to learn from the past and be informed by the present. There will be a vast array of wrap-around activity including offering rapid HIV testing in partnership with 56 Dean Street Sexual Health Clinic to all those who attend the production along with debates, Q&As and education seminars with eminent speakers exploring subjects concerning those affected by HIV and AIDS. These events are held in partnership with organisations such as the Make A Difference Trust, Terrence Higgins Trust and other notable charities.
Director Andrew Keates says: "When I first directed As Is there were three reasons why I wanted to mount a production of this extraordinary play. Firstly, because it is an authentic immediate response to the HIV/AIDS crisis. Secondly, to honour all of those who were lost to AIDS during those impossible times and, lastly, because if as a result of seeing As Is even one person was inspired to get tested for HIV and discovered they were positive then they could receive the vital treatment they needed. I had never dreamed that person would be me (as I spoke about for the MAD Trust at last year’s West End Eurovision).
"Since my diagnosis as HIV+ it has become my life’s work using the arts to educate and inspire those who may be too frightened to learn the facts and history about HIV and AIDS."
New York City, 1985. Rich (Steven Webb), a young writer who is beginning to find success, is breaking up with his longtime lover, Saul (David Poynor), a professional photographer. However, Rich's idyll with his new lover is short-lived when he learns that he has contracted the terrifying new disease AIDS and he returns to Saul for sanctuary as he awaits its slow and awful progress. In a mosaic of brilliantly conceived short scenes, blending humour, poignance and dazzling theatricality, As Is captures the pathos of Rich's relationship with friends and family, the cold impersonality of the doctors and nurses who care for him and the widely diverse aspects of New York's gay community. This is a heartbreaking and unsparing examination of a deeply felt human relationship shattered by a mindless, destructive disease.
The production will feature new design by Tim McQuillen-Wright with a specially commissioned musical score by Matthew Strachan, costume design by Philippa Batt and Tobias Fairclough, and lighting design by Neill Brinkworth.
Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks