As Is

by William M. Hoffman

6 August – 31 August 2013

“Sometimes I’m so scared I go back on my resolutions: I drink too much, and I smoke a joint, and I find myself at the bars and clubs, where I stand around and watch. They remind me of accounts of Europe during the Black Plague: groping in the dark, dancing till you drop. The New Wave is the corpse look. I’m very frightened and I miss you. Say something, damn it.”

The first London production in more than 25 years

Time Out Critics’ Choice
★★★★ Time Out
★★★★★ Entertainment Focus
★★★★★ Remotegoat
★★★★ Everything Theatre
★★★★ One Stop Arts
★★★★ What’s Peen Seen
★★★★ So So Gay
★★★★ Attitude

The first London production since the 1987 UK premiere of William M. Hoffman’s As Is

New York City, 1985.

Rich, a young writer who is beginning to find success, is breaking up with his longtime lover, Saul, a professional photographer. However Rich’s idyll with his new lover is short-lived when he learns that he has contracted the terrifying new disease AIDS and returns to Saul for sanctuary as he awaits its slow and awful progress.

In a mosaic of brilliantly conceived short scenes, blending humour, poignance and dazzling theatricality, As Is captures the pathos of Rich’s relationship with friends and family, the cold impersonality of the doctors and nurses who care for him and the widely diverse aspects of New York’s gay community. A heartbreaking and unsparing examination of a deeply felt human relationship shattered by a mindless, destructive disease.

As Is was a revolutionary and groundbreaking play of its time, and remains sadly still urgently relevant – the number of gay and bisexual men being diagnosed with HIV in the UK reached an “all-time high” in 2011 (figures from the Health Protection Agency).

As Is was the winner of the Obie and Drama Desk Awards, one of Time Magazine’s ‘Best Plays of the Year’ and nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play. It was originally produced Off-Broadway by the Circle Repertory Company in 1985, and subsequently transferred to Broadway. It was televised in 1986, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. It now receives its first London production since the 1987 UK premiere at the Half Moon Theatre.

The cast of As Is includes Tom Colley as Rich, who recently finished playing Galileo in both the Hampstead Theatre and West End productions of The Judas Kiss, and David Poynor, best known for playing Lockwood in the National Theatre, Wyndham’s Theatre and touring productions of The History Boys. Other cast members include Jordan Bernarde (Roland in Da Vinci’s Demons), John Hastings (Can I Be Straight With You – Theatre503), Tom Kay (A Woman Killed With Kindness – National Theatre), Clare Kissane (The New Statesman at Trafalgar Studios, and New Boy for which she won Best Actress at the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival), Paul Standell (Vieux Carré – Kings Head and Charing Cross Theatre) and Anna Tierney (Tull – Octagon Theatre, Bolton).

About The Playwright William M. Hoffman

Playwright William M. Hoffman is the author of As Is, which earned him a Drama Desk Award in 1986, an Obie, as well as Tony and Pulitzer nominations for best play. He also wrote the libretto to The Ghosts of Versailles (music by John Corigliano), which premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 1991, played there again in 1996. Hoffman is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, three National Endowment Awards, ASCAP and Fund for New American Plays awards, two grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Erwin Piscator Award. In 1992, his television work brought him an Emmy nomination and he received a Writers Guild award. Hoffman has written critically for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Village Voice and Vogue. In 2001, he premiered a masque, The Cows of Apollo, with composer Chris Theofanidis, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. This year, he completed the the libretto for Morning Star for the Cincinnati Opera. Other works include Chico de Jazzzz, Cyberian Nights, The Stench of Art, and an adaptation of Carlo Gozzi’s Blue Monster and Cornbury: The Queen’s Governor. Hoffman is the host and Artistic Director of Conversations With William M. Hoffman, seen on CUNY-TV. He is Professor of Theatre at Lehman College and is currently completing Memoirs of an Ex-Boy.

About The Director Andrew Keates

Multi-award-winning director Andrew Keates will be directing his third production at the Finborough Theatre following ROOMS – A Rock Romance, and last year’s sell-out production of Passing By by Martin Sherman. Most recently, he directed and developed the award-winning professional world premiere of A Winter’s Tale, written by Howard Goodall, Nick Stimson and himself. Andrew first came to attention after his production of Bent in 2010 at the Landor Theatre, which then transferred to the Tabard Theatre for a further run. Recent productions include The Thing About Men and The Hired Man (both at the Landor Theatre), Conjugal Rites (Courtyard Theatre) and Just So (Tabard Theatre). His work has received many award nominations, including Best Director for Bent, Best Director for Just So, Best Entertainment for Just So and most recently, winning Best New Musical for A Winter’s Tale and Best Musical Production for The Hired Man in the OffWestEnd Awards. Andrew is the founder and artistic director of Arion Productions Ltd.

The New York Press on the Original Production of As Is

“Wonderful….frightening….remarkable….Broadway’s most moving and immediate experience. William M. Hoffman’s writing is stiletto sharp.” New York Post

“Death-defyingly humorous.” New York Times

“Devastating and unforgettable…..the best play I’ve seen in ages,” New York Daily News

The Press on Director Andrew Keates

“Andrew Keates directs with exemplary sensitivity and skill.” Mark Shenton, The Stage

“Immaculately directed by Keates.” Mark Shenton, The Stage

“Andrew Keates direction is elegant and precise…powerfully directed with skill.” WhatsOnStage

“I've no idea how Andrew Keates gets so much action in such a little space and assembles, a cast of such fine actors.” Melvyn Bragg

The Press on As Is

Time Out Critics' Choice
★★★★ Time Out
★★★★★ Entertainment Focus
★★★★★ Remotegoat
★★★★ Everything Theatre
★★★★ One Stop Arts
★★★★ What’s Peen Seen
★★★★ So So Gay
★★★★ Attitude

"A bold, brave piece of theatre, and has been arrestingly staged here.” Mark Shenton, The Stage

“Brave performances and a truly authentic off-Broadway vibe make this a wisely chosen revival” Tim Macavoy, Attitude

“A tremendously powerful piece which benefits from universally excellent performances. This is a great production of a great play...engrossing, moving, funny and thought-provoking: what more could anyone ask?” Greg Jameson, Entertainment Focus

“A true forgotten gem of a play that charts a deeply moving relationship to the backdrop of 80s AIDS paranoia and the hedonistic abandon of the gay community.” Andrew Crane, What’s Peen Seen

“A sharp and unsentimental take on the AIDS pandemic in its first horrid flush. Filled with eloquent monologues and pitch black humour, it’s a heart-breaking window into the past and, at the same time, this revival poses a very searching question: despite how we kid ourselves, are we really so more enlightened today?” Nathan Brooker, Time Out

“The numbers of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV in the UK reached an all-time high in 2011. So this blistering report from the front-line of the AIDS crisis as it first affected a then-unknowing community is sadly all too relevant to us now, and is both a chastening and enlightening reminder of the struggles of an earlier generation. If only it could be said that we’ve learnt their lessons.” Mark Shenton, The Stage

“Set in the intimacy of the Finborough Theatre, the play has a rawness, anger and honesty that grab you and hold you.” Edward Lukes, The London Magazine

“I left the theater feeling uplifted and exhilarated – absolutely the opposite of what I expected. Twenty-five years later, As Is had so much to offer, and I’m glad I was there to take it in.” Word Press – Life in the cheap seats

“As Is doesn’t beat about the bush – it’s loud, brave and human, and the confined space of the award-winning Finborough Theatre is the perfect venue for it.” Tamara Vos, The Londonist

“As a tragedy and a political statement, this work is important. As a love story in which commitment is promised unconditionally – as is – in sickness and in health, it is timeless in its power.” Edward Lukes, The London Magazine

“Tom Colley and David Poynor are excellent” Nathan Brooker, Time Out

"Tom Colley and David Poynor lead an exceptional cast” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“Colley and Poyner are fantastically well cast and bounce off each other with tangible chemistry” Andrew Crane, What’s Peen Seen

“Paynor and Colley play the roles with enormous truth and sadness but also have a magical chemistry.” Dan Phillips, Bargain Theatreland

“Well served by his strong and committed young actors, led by the strikingly handsome Tom Colley as Rich and David Poynor as Saul.” Mark Shenton, The Stage

“Anna Tierney is superb as Lily.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“Among the strong supporting cast Anna Tierney’s part as their friend stands out, as does Jordan Bernade, who plays Rich’s brother and a host of minor characters superbly.” Edward Lukes, The London Magazine

“Jordan Bernarde and Paul Standell, in particular, do a stand-out duet as two workers on a health service telephone line in one of the best written scenes.” Alex Ramon, British Theatre Guide

“Despite (in fact, because of) the heavy subject matter, As Is is an extremely funny piece, and director Andrew Keates manages this with a great delicacy of touch that teases out the humour but never at the expense of credibility.” Greg Jameson, Entertainment Focus

“The Finborough Theatre’s admirable commitment to “gay plays” old and new continues with Andrew Keates’s deft and lively take on William M. Hoffman’s award-winning As Is. Keates’s production is, in fact, the first British revival of Hoffman’s play since its 1987 UK première at the Half Moon Theatre. And it proves a welcome occasion all round.” Alex Ramon, British Theatre Guide

“Returning to the Finborough following his recent successes with ROOMS—A Rock Romance and his revival of another iconic gay text, Martin Sherman’s Passing By, Keates delivers another confident production here, one that’s sensitively attuned to the play’s movements in mood and that manages the location shifts with economy” Alex Ramon, British Theatre Guide

“Andrew Keates' direction brings originality and insight to Hoffman's powerful play.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“Keates' production handles it sensitively but not too delicately - and even manages to find something uplifting within the bleak context.” Nick730, Partially Obstructed View

6 August – 31 August 2013

Tickets and Times

Tuesday 7:30pm
Wednesday 7:30pm
Thursday 7:30pm
Friday 7:30pm
Saturday 3:00pm (from the second week of the run)
7:30pm
Sunday 3:00pm

Approximately 90 minutes