Bren Gosling, who wrote Moment of Grace, has written something very remarkable and special here. Taking three people’s lives that under normal circumstances would never have connected and crossed paths, but they do meet because of the link they have with AIDS in the early years of the disease in the late 80s – even before HIV had been isolated as the cause of the illness.
This play is just wonderful with the three actors – Richard Costello as Donnie, estranged from his son, Narisha Lawson as nurse Jude and James Taylor-Thomas as AIDS patient Andrew – giving performances that are brilliant, and not over sentimental. Through Gosling’s script, the actors’ roles are informative and touch on emotions that range from fear of recrimination, the need for redemption, lack of trust and looking for someone to blame and the attitudes of the time where fear that you could lose your livelihood, home and connection with friends and family because of the stigma attached from even working with AIDS patients, let alone having the illness.
There is a poignancy to all three characters that runs deep and especially with the Donnie character where you get the unfounded sense that his own masculinity as a fireman was under attack become he had a gay son; just a superb observation. Jude had dreams of doing something, and being something else, but she loved being a nurse, and AIDS patient Andrew now understood what was happening to him and still loved life and his memories were strong.
Moment of Grace is the story of when Diana, Princess of Wales made a visit to the Broderip Ward, Britain’s first AIDS unit at the Middlesex Hospital in London and shook patients’ hands without wearing any protection. After this event the pictures went global and started to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic and to educate people. Considering that at the time the popular daily press were still running sensation-grabbing headlines like “The Gay Plague”, and some people’s attitudes were that of ignorance and even condemning people with AIDS. People were scared and hostile, egged on by some journalists, politicians and other public figures.
The three stories are interlaced beautifully and told with such a passion that is hugely and immensely captivating and even gutsy, and the comedy touches Gosling puts into the nurse Jude’s character add a tenderness that shines out.
Beautifully lit by Laurel Marks, the spotlight effect is exquisite making the pace of the play precise and perfect.
Moment of Grace is a stunning and memorable piece of compulsive viewing. A top notch theatrical experience where “a moment in time” has been brought to life. Simply sensational.
Photos by Edward Baxter