As Is

As Is

As Is
By William Hoffman
Directed by Wade Hair
Starring Anthony Marando and Marcus Davila
The Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL

Serious topic, serious action here in this classic play from the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Rich (Marando) and Saul (Davila) were lovers but fade to “just friends.” One feels ill and the other really IS ill. Their lives are embedded in swinging cruise happy New York City circa 1985 where “Fidelity” is just the name of a big bank. As their relation ebbs and flows it’s soon clear that this is a tragedy of operatic proportions; you know immediately that the star will die. It’s the details that keep you fascinated, and surrounding our unhappy couple we find friends and family. Friends are sympathetic as the smell of death hangs over the scene; it’s the family that crumbles. Rich’s brother (Kevin Hudson) over acts comically in his precautions while his friend Lily Maggie Hartman) just wishes the whole thing would quietly slip away. A burnt out nun (Eileen Antonescu) watches over the action patiently, she only comes out at the beginning and end of the acts to comment on the action. While the people passing away under her hospice care are sinners her largest slice of sympathy is kept for self-consumption. Around the main cast are four multi-role actors (Frank P. Piccione, Todd H. Latoski, Grace Trotta, and Ryan Karnemaat). They add depth and veracity to the city, the social circles, and the angsts ridden zeitgeist of the play. Despite the downer vibe this remains a relatively positive play for the era. AIDS-based works that followed often look to place blame on authority as they lecture against cruel, cruel fate. This story focuses more on the personal loss and the heartbreak; recall one death is a tragedy, and all the others together are just statistics.

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