“I’ll take you as is” – the words we all long to hear from a loved one.
This play is set during the 1980’s AIDS epidemic. Saul and Rich are splitting up their belongings after a break up (Rich left Saul for another man). But Saul still desperately wants to work things out and have another go at things. But will he still, when he discovers Rich has been infected with the AIDS virus and dumped by his lover? Sometimes the boundaries of love are tested and it is interesting to see the results. As Is cleverly tells the story through short scenes of past and future times. Rich’s family don’t take news of his illness well and his brother refuses to touch him incase he catches something.
Despite being writing thirty years ago and AIDS may not have as drastic consequences as it once did (if treated properly), this play is still relevant. It shows us how death is dealt with and the guilt we feel for how we have treated others. According to statistics, 25% of those living with HIV in Scotland aren’t aware they have the illness and so hopefully this play up at Edinburgh Fringe will encourage people to go and get tested. It would be a great show to hold free HIV testing sessions after the performance as it is still seen as a gay disease when in reality half of the people contracting it are not gay.
The acting in this show is thoughtful, sensitive and well done by all. Hospice worker Sarah Griffin is brilliant at giving monologues about how she stays with people until the very end of their lives, many times after the families have found it too much to handle. The main couple the show centres around, Rich and Saul (Blake Kubena and Joey Bartram) work well together on stage and have a good rapport together. Ashton Charge plays the interesting young lover Chet who steals Rich’s love away from Saul by complementing him in ways people forget to do sometimes in relationships.
As Is is pretty hard going theatre to watch at 11.30am but if you’re up and about early enough go and check it out before lunch as the message is there and still needs to be heard.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
As Is is playing at the Bedlam Theatre until 30 August 2015. Click here to book tickets