As Is

As Is by William M. Hoffmanby William M. Hoffman
Finborough Theatre
6 – 31 August 2013

This production later transferred to the West End’s Trafalgar Studios. Click here for more information.

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 since the 1987 UK premiere of William M. Hoffman’s As Is opened at the Finborough Theatre for a four week limited season on Tuesday, 6 August 2013 (Press Night: Thursday, 8 August at 7.30pm) directed by Andrew Keates.

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, some profoundly moving, some brightly humorous, 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.

Blending humour, poignance and brilliant theatricality, As Is was a revolutionary and groundbreaking play of its time, and is still sadly urgently relevant as the number of gay and bisexual men being diagnosed with HIV in the UK reached an “all-time high” in 2011, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

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 by the Circle Repertory Company Off-Broadway 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).

Jordan Bernarde. Tom Colley. John Hastings. Tom Kay. Clare Kissane. David Poynor. Paul Standell. Anna Tierney.

Directed by Andrew Keates.
Designed by Philip Lindley. Lighting by Tim Deiling. Costume Design by Philippa Batt.
Sound Design by Will Jackson. Music by Matthew Strachan. Casting by Benjamin Newsome.

All photographs by Scott Rylander. Music by Matthew Strachan

All photographs by Scott Rylander.

Stephen Fry


“Andrew Keates is a leading figure in British theatre: his drive to present new plays and musicals, performed by the very best in young talent has been one of the most refreshing developments in the London theatre world for ages” Stephen Fry (Author, Broadcaster and Polymath)



“A bold, brave piece of theatre…arrestingly staged.”
Mark Shenton, The Stage

“There is much to think about, this is an excellent production which should not be missed and a masterclass in production values existing in London’s vibrant fringe venues.”
★★★★★ Petra Schofiled, Remotegoat

“As Is is must-see viewing”
★★★★ Everything Theatre

“It should be seen by everyone, not just people who are interested in gay rights and history”
★★★★ Annegret Märten, One Stop Arts

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

“It is superbly cast and beautifully crafted in vision. Andrew Keates (Directing) has captured the very soul of the text, ensuring there are moments of supreme celebration and love amidst the crushing futility of illness and disease”
★★★★★ Petra Schofiled, Remotegoat

“As Is leaves audience members reeling with pathos for their fellow man, while still providing bittersweet laughter throughout.”
★★★★ Ann Higgins, The Upcoming

“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 (Critic’s Choice)

“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

“Highly recommended and often jaw-droppingly good.”
★★★★ Tim Macavoy, Attitude

“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

“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

“vibrantly brought to life through Andrew Keates’ direction”
★★★★ Annegret Märten, One Stop Arts

“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.”
Life In The Cheap Seats

“This piece of staging was a prime example of how slick and efficient the entire production was.”
★★★★ Everything Theatre

“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

“It was easy, thanks to the strong direction, well dressed set pieces, brilliantly paced action and committed performances from the talented cast to lose yourself in that time and feel the struggles of these characters.”
★★★★ Jamie Clark, So So Gay

“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 (Critic’s Choice)

“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

“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

“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.”
★★★★★ Greg Jameson, Entertainment Focus

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