Moment of Grace by Bren Gosling. The Hope Theatre, 207 Upper Street, Islington, London to 16 July 2022. 4****. William Russell.

The memorable visit by Princess Diana to an aids ward in the Middlesex Hospital 35 years ago is recalled in this moving play which was originally a victim of the 2020 pandemic lockdown. Filmed and streamed via the Actor’s Centre it is now getting its first full staged run directed by Su Gilroy. Andrew (James Taylor-Thomas) is in the ward the Princess is due to visit and he has agreed to stay – many of the patients did not want the world to know they were in there. he has agreed, but insisted he will not be photographed as his parents do not know he is gay and think he s in for some respiratory problems. Jude (Narisha Lawson) is a nurse working on the word and deeply affected by her patients almost all of whom will die. They recall the events of the day. The third character is Donnie (Richard Costella), a middle aged fireman who lives with wife and daughters, but whose son left home years before and has been cast off – at least by him. The boy had confessed to being gay and Donnie has pretty well every prejudice you could imagine, only to have his blinkered world turned upside down because among the nurses working=g on the ward is his son. Gosling has constructed the piece beautifully, the monologues interweaving seamlessly, and the cast could not be bettered. The performances are pretty near perfect. Things have changed. People do not die any longer and Diana is also pretty well forgotten, but that visit to the ward was one of those moments when things change – she held hands with the dying men, she sat and talked to them, she dispelled in doing it some of prejudices and misinformation that was rife at the time. Gosling and all concerned really have conjured up what the title claims.

Donnie: Richard Costello.
Jude: Narisha Lawson.
Andrew: James Taylor-Thomas.

Director: Su Gilroy.
Assistant Director: Theresa Burke-Findlay.
Lighting Programmer: Laurel Marks.
Production photographs: Edward Baxter

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