The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings








Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London London Review
As Is

"We simply don't know" — Doctor
As Is
Tom Colley as Rich and David Poynor as Saul (Photo: Scott Rylander)
Writing in the programme at The Finborough, playwright William M Hoffman says that he told his friend in 1980 or 81 that, "It was absurb: a disease capable of distinguishing between homo and heterosexual men." Set in 1985, As Is looks at the onset of AIDs for Rich (Tom Colley) an emergent poet and writer who lives in New York.

In the opening scene, Rich and Saul (David Poyner), a photographer, are splitting up and discussing how to divide their joint possessions. The pain at this ending of a relationship is apparent but worse is to come. Rich is to experience inflamed glands on his neck, in a condition known as an AIDs type illness. Saul still loves Rich and will care for him although Rich had left Saul for a relationship with the younger beefcake Chet (Tom Kay).

As Is is a love story in the face of the AIDs epidemic as New York's gay community witness those that are ill and dying. It is the loss of so many that touches the heart and marks out the vulnerability of those who used to frequent the gay bathhouses and bars where sexual encounters were exciting, unplanned and unsafe. The humour of the New Yorker is there and in the face of disaster, there is an ability to laugh.

Rich and Saul are something of a mismatch, perhaps the attraction of opposites? Together Rich seems to be so much taller than Saul and while Rich is dark and handsome and out there, Saul is quieter with a softer disposition. I started by not caring very much for Tom Colley's character Rich, but the power of the play is an emotional trajectory towards tragedy and caring.

We see all of Rich's sexual contacts flooding onto the stage. We encounter the medical staff, two volunteers manning a phone hotline service and the staff at St Vincent's, the hospice where their friend Teddy is dying. In one scene each cast member recalls about the first time they heard about AIDs, who of their friends has it and ends with a roll call of all those they know who have died. The play is top and tailed by the evidence of an Irish woman worker at the hospice (Clare Kissane) whose brash and loud account is hard to take in the tiny Finborough space.

Andrew Keates gets varied performances out of his eight strong ensemble cast who take on many more roles. The set is glum and dark, hospital brown and dominated by a grandiose columned archway, the entrance to St Vincent's. A waiting bench becomes the institutional hospice bed. The men are very 1980s with sideboards and moustaches, many of them would look at home in a Village People video and they are all too young to die.

I shall never forget the punch, as Rich and Saul decide to revive the sexual side of their relationship, when Saul sees Rich's skin lesions for the first time.

The relevance of As Is is that HIV is once more on the rise in the UK with an all time high of gay and bisexual men diagnosed in 2011.

Subscribe to our FREE email updates with a note from editor Elyse Sommer about additions to the website -- with main page hot links to the latest features posted at our numerous locations. To subscribe, E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message -- if you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
As Is
Written by William M Hoffman
Directed by Andrew Keates

Starring: Tom Colley and David Poynor
With: Clare Kissane, Tom Kay, Anna Tierney, Jordan Bernards, John Hastings, Paul Standell
Set Design: Philip Lindley
Lighting: Tim Delling
Sound: Will Jackson
Costume Design: Philippa Batt
Composer: Matthew Strachan
Running time: One hour twenty minutes without interval
Box Office: 0844 847 1652
Booking to 31st August 2013
A production from The Finborough Theatre and Arion Productions Ltd
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 8th August 2013 performance at The Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED (Tube: Earls Court/West Brompton)

Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of As Is
  • I disagree with the review of As Is
  • The review made me eager to see As Is
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email . . . also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

London Theatre Walks

Peter Ackroyd's  History of London: The Biography

London Sketchbook

tales from shakespeare
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
Our Review

©Copyright 2013, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from