As Is

Theatre , Drama
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 (© Scott Rylander)
1/11
© Scott Rylander

Steven Webb, David Poynor & Russell Morton in 'As Is'

 (© Scott Rylander)
2/11
© Scott Rylander

Steven Webb & David Poynor in 'As Is'

 (© Scott Rylander)
3/11
© Scott Rylander

Steven Webb & David Poynor in 'As Is'

 (© Scott Rylander)
4/11
© Scott Rylander

Russel Morton & Steven Webb in 'As Is'

 (© Scott Rylander)
5/11
© Scott Rylander

 Jane Lowe in 'As Is'

 (© Scott Rylander)
6/11
© Scott Rylander

Giles Cooper & Steven Webb in 'As Is'

 (© Scott Rylander)
7/11
© Scott Rylander

Dino Fetscher, Steven Webb & Russell Morton in 'As Is'

 (© Scott Rylander)
8/11
© Scott Rylander

Bevan Celestine, Giles Cooper, Steven Webb, Dino Fetscher, Russel Morton & David Poynor in 'As Is

 (© Scott Rylander)
9/11
© Scott Rylander

Bevan Celestine & Russel Morton in 'As Is'

 (© Scott Rylander)
10/11
© Scott Rylander

Bevan Celestine & Natalie Burt in 'As Is'

 (© Scott Rylander)
11/11
© Scott Rylander

David Poynor & Steven Webb in 'As Is'

A beautifully wrought tale of love and Aids

Billed as ‘The First Aids Play’, having opened in New York in 1985, you’d be likely to forgive William Hoffman’s ‘As Is’ a lot, just for the fact that it broke such new ground. That it’s also sensitive and radically empathetic is a bonus, but the fact that it’s strikingly inventive and often very funny makes this revival a moving and heartfelt thrill.

Rich and Saul are picking over the bones of their dead relationship, carving up possessions between them and raking over old resentments when this strange new shadow falls over Rich’s life. Aids has just made its way into the consciousness of New York’s gay scene, and old friends and lovers are dying away at an alarming rate. The atmosphere vibrates with confusion, fear and denial, but lives must be lived and loves must be loved regardless.

Hoffman’s play is remarkably nuanced and clear-sighted on the physical, emotional and social impact of the disease, and at the same time a witty and punchy love story that manages to remain sex positive under the most extreme of circumstances.
David Poynor is perfectly gawky and sincere as the love-wounded Saul, while Steven Webb makes a formidable journey as Rich, from his vain and uncaring beginnings, as the disease forces him to confront what’s important in his life. A late scene with his gruff brother, an easy-to-miss but dead-on Dino Fetscher, as they move towards some kind of acceptance, is a real tear-wrencher.

Wholly remounting the play following it’s 2013 run at the Finborough Theatre (only Poynor remains from the original cast) director Andrew Keates keeps a masterful hand on the pacing – it’s fast and filthy under the beating of disco lights, and slow and forensic in the cold glare of hospital wards.

Defiant where it could be self-pitying, raucous where it could be worthy: ‘As Is’ never blanches from the pain and suffering of Aids, but it also refuses to erase the joys of being alive and being in love.

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Andrea Tierney

The whole gamut of emotions of a gay couple in the midst of a break up is heightened by the admission of one of them that he's Aids positive. As friends and family desert the young man, his gay lover remains loyal to the end. Wonderfully acted lyrical scenes change abruptly into hard hitting ones depicting the atmosphere in gay clubs and bars. The final scene being the hospital, where an Irish nurse with a rough edge to her saintliness gives various accounts of how she and her patients cope during the last stages of illness. Strong supporting characters are the brother of the protagonist, who overcomes his feelings of rejection, reaffirming the bond between them and cousin Lily, desperately trying to make it into films by styling herself as the blonde bombshell.

Andrea Tierney

New York - 1985. 'As Is' is a fast-paced play, energy-laden with six male and two female characters. The whole gamut of emotions of a gay couple in the midst of a break up is heightened by the admission of one of them that he's Aids positive. As friends and family desert the young man, his gay lover remains loyal to the end. Wonderfully acted lyrical scenes change abruptly into hard hitting ones depicting the atmosphere in gay clubs and bars. The final scene being the hospital, where an Irish nurse with a rough edge to her saintliness gives various accounts of how she and her patients cope during the last stages of illness. Strong supporting characters are the brother of the protagonist, who overcomes his feelings of rejection, reaffirming the bond between them and cousin Lily, desperately trying to make it into films by styling herself as the blonde bombshell.