The cast has been announced for the award-winning play Moment of Grace, which will run at the Hope Theatre in Islington from Tuesday 28th June – Saturday 16th July 2022.
Written by Bren Gosling (PROUD, King’s Head Theatre; Invisible Me, Studio at New Wimbledon Theatre; I, Minnie Lansbury, Bloomsbury Festival), Moment of Grace is about Princess Diana’s visit to Britain’s first specialist HIV/AIDS Unit at London’s Middlesex Hospital in 1987, and her famous handshake with an AIDS patient.
Based on personal testimonies, Moment of Grace is about this incredible act and its impact on three people – Andrew, an AIDS patient, Jude, a nurse, and Donnie, a fireman estranged from his son. James Taylor-Thomas (EastEnders, BBC; Belgravia, ITV; The 39 Steps, Swanage Rep) will play Andrew, Narisha Lawson (Doctors, BBC; The New Worst Witch, ITV; Birds and Bees, Soho Theatre/Theatre Centre) will portray Jude, and Donnie will be brought to life by Richard Costello (Death of England, National Theatre; Guys and Dolls, Donmar Warehouse; Gladiator, Dreamworks/Universal).
Moment of Grace is created by Backstory Ensemble Productions in association with The National HIV Story Trust (NHST), a charity set up by a group of volunteers to ensure the true history of the HIV/AIDS pandemic of the 1980s and 1990s is not forgotten. On Saturday 9th July, there will be a 45-minute panel Q&A after the matinée performance chaired by BAFTA-nominated TV and film producer Paul Coleman, Trustee and Founder of NHST.
Joining writer Bren Gosling, and cast members James Taylor-Thomas, Narisha Lawson and Richard Costello, will be guest panellists Theresa Burns, who worked as an HIV nurse in London in the 1980s, and Dr Robert Miller, who was present at Diana’s visit to Middlesex Hospital in 1987. Along with material from NHST and other sources, Robert’s personal account of the day helped Bren to write Moment of Grace. Theresa knew Shane Snape, an HIV positive nurse who inspired one of the characters in the play, and to whom this production is dedicated.
It is 35 years since Diana’s visit paved the way for a major shift in the public perception of people living with HIV and AIDS. Worldwide interest, news crews and a televised interview followed. To change public misconceptions, would you have risked it? Addressing an untold but incredibly important part of recent LGBTQ+ and collective history, Moment of Grace will make you laugh, cry, get angry, and open your heart. The play won the NO: INTERMISSION International One Act Play Competition in 2020. A filmed version was streamed from The Actors Centre, and this was awarded an ONCOM Commendation by The Offies.
Writer Bren Gosling comments, It is very special for me to be working on a full staged production of Moment of Grace, with such a fantastic cast. I’m so excited to get into the rehearsal studio again with this play and such an array of talent, really this project will shine. I am very much looking forward as well to our Q&A panel discussion, a chance again to engage with Paul, Rob, and Theresa, who have all been so instrumental in bringing this play to life.