This is definitely not the first time I have seen a play about being gay or about the AIDS epidemic, but it is the first time I have seen an eclectic and moving look at life post HIV diagnosis told with such startling humor and honesty.
A unique and vital new stage in the progression of HIV themed work in the theatre.
In First Time Nathanial Hall – our brave autobiographical performer – gives a stellar performance of a young man coming to terms with his HIV diagnosis and, even more importantly, shows us how to channel tragedy into personal power. We meet Nathanial at his lowest moment and through a series of stories, presented as a combination of stand-up, performance art, and interactive theatre we watch this young, scared man transform into a fierce warrior for HIV education and a life free of self shame.
To say the show is inspiring, does not do this unique work justice. The play is compelling, motivating, triumphant, and sobering. The real genius of the piece is how Hall not only shares his story, but allows the audience themselves to grieve over the loss and devastation that is the AIDS crisis. The script's focus on not only the "how?" of Hall’s HIV status, but also the “what now?” elevates the piece above so much of the other HIV themed shows I’ve seen over the years.
The audience is not allowed to leave in a state of grief or pity, but is rather forced to confront their own complicity in allowing the epidemic to continue and to contemplate how we might be able to step up and make a difference.
Bravo to Nathaniel Hall for creating a piece of theatre that harkens a unique and vital new stage in the progression of HIV themed work in the theatre. See First Time here at the Fringe while you have the chance. Both the performer and the work will have a long life after this premiere. And Mr. Hall, thank you, I survived too.