Positive – a new play about living with HIV and the stigma that surrounds the condition. Following rave reviews at last years Edinburgh Fringe Festival and then a special one-off performance for World Aids Day in December 2013, Positive is back for a three week run at Waterloo East Theatre.
The thing that intrigued me with this show was its tagline “If Britney can get through 2007 then I can get through today”. I wondered how humorous a show about living with HIV could be and so I went to check it out.
Benji (Timothy George) is HIV positive, he is also Britney Spears biggest fan. Since he found out he had the virus he has barely left the house (apart from to go to work). After constant nagging from flat mate Nikki (Nathalie Barclay), Benji goes out to a club and meets young university student Olly. When Olly finds out Benji is HIV positive he screams and threatens to have him arrested for trying to infect him (through kissing). Benji runs back home to his safety cocoon but is soon talked in to going on a blind date with Nikkis boyfriend Gregs (Paul Heelis) friend Matt (Shaun Kitchener). They hit it off but after weeks of dating, Benji still hasn’t broken the news to him about his illness. Will Matt accept the news when he finds out or will he run away and will Benji get around to telling him before someone else does?
Positive is a hilarious look at a very serious subject of how misunderstood the HIV virus still is in todays society. Stand out performances come from Ryan J Brown (Olly) who’s immature view on the world is sad but hilarious to watch and Jamie-Rose Monk (Jennifer) who plays the sex clinic worker with charm and humour.
Scene changes are done in a dream like sense, taking us back and forth in time to show the back story to what has been happening throughout their lives. The set is simple but has everything it needs for a show of this size and the powerful story and brilliant acting make everything else irrelevant.
Positive is hard to fault. Writer Shaun Kitchener (who also plays Matt) has managed to touch on a very difficult subject and tells the serious story through comedy humour (without losing any of the sentiment). Actors are perfectly cast to fit their character roles and the comedy one-liners are cringeworthy and hilarious at the same time. Positively brilliant in every sense.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Positive plays at the Waterloo East Theatre until 1 June 2014. Click here for tickets.