Moment of Grace brings to stage a poignant part of documented history when the country watched on as Diana Princess of Wales opened the AIDS ward unit in London’s Middlesex Hospital. Diana began breaking down the myth that HIV could be passed on through touch or hugging.
Patients were “infectious, not contagious”. Stigma and urban myths shrouded the infected patients. Anyone so much as connected to them lived in fear of being alienated and cast out as “they must have caught it”. Nurse Jude (Narisha Lawson) explains the fear of ridicule compassionately which she faced on a daily basis as a 24-year-old nurse.
I was moved throughout the 55 minute performance by all three cast members. Understanding how they all lived through the same events yet their experiences were worlds apart. Andrew (James Taylor-Thomas) explains from the perspective of an hiv patient living on the ward how he hid his illness from the world and condemned himself to the inevitable, death.
Donnie (Richard Costello) is mourning the loss of his son and best friend. His conflicting opinions on gay men are subtle. He should hate them for not being ” a man’s man” of his generation and they deserve to be ill. Although I wanted to dislike him for his outward opinions there’s a softer side to his character that I felt wanted to accept everyone for who they are.
Director Su Gilroy captures the cruelty of the 1980s stigma and ignorance surrounding HIV patients. Although we don’t see Diana Princess of Wales the mention of her presence is all we need to see how deeply she touched the lives of so many. Using three stools and a uniformed cast alone, the rich and moving script by Bren Gosling was all that the cast required to bring this extremely important story to life.
Stories like a Moment of Grace are archived in our memories as part of history. Yet these harsh periods in our not-so-distant past need to be talked about and bought to the screens and stages to raise awareness of how hideously a large section of society was unjustly treated.
Please use the link below to find out more about a Moment of Grace, book tickets and for information about future productions coming up at The Hope and Anchor pub theatre.
Links below to The Terence Higgins Trust and other organisations that support and help those effected by HIV.