Fronting

A bold and convention-bashing introspection on the impact of HIV, through the medium of two young gay men. David and Will catch each others’ eyes over the mist of a steamy nightclub. However when they venture back to David’s house, instead of engaging in a tryst, they find themselves exploring the poignancy of religion, homophobia, broken trust and living with HIV as a twenty-one year old.

A bold and convention-bashing introspection on the impact of HIV, through the medium of two young gay men

The skill of this performance lies in the acting, with Conor O’Donnelly excelling in the role of David. We are given very short glimpses of his interaction with others, as he narrates his own journey to self-acceptance of what his life will look like subsequent to contracting HIV from his cheating partner. The additional three actors serve to break up the banality of two people engaging in the one conversation for a whole hour. However, these other actors were talented and could have been utilised more efficiently to create a change of pace and energies in the performance. The dialogue was weak and staid in places, though this was down to the script and not the actors. There was no development of the characters throughout the performance, other than the cementing of a relationship which could be more - but we’re left guessing, as toward the end David still maintains he doesn’t want a relationship. This confused me, as at the start he said he didn’t want a one night stand, and I was left querying what the original motivation for his connection with Will had been. Were neither of these options what his intentions had been?

Highlights of the play, written by Glasgow playwright Darren Hardie, are its challenging of stereotypes: that HIV is not a gay disease; that it’s not always the consequence of multiple sexual partners and that it’s not a death sentence. Other themes are intertwined, like Will’s devout catholicism despite being ‘a flamboyant homosexual’. We hear how both boys experienced their coming-out, and there is a good deal of detail about the options for people with HIV or coming into contact with it, like PEP and PrEP. Perhaps too many themes, instead of fully exploring one or two while employing the full range of talented actors available.

A daring piece by Yellowbird Theatre, which creates a safe space to challenge our preconceptions and imagine a life potentially devastated by societal stigma. This is a snappy little production which could be elevated by the occasional change of tempo, dimming the lights a little and tightening up some of the dialogue. Still a great way to spend an hour.

Reviews by Jodie McVicar

Sweet Grassmarket

Year Without Summer

★★★
Sweet Grassmarket

One Woman Alien

★★★
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4

Michelle McManus: Reloaded

★★★★
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4

Jo Caulfield: Killing Time

★★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Adulting

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Following its award-winning run at the Dublin International Gay Theatre Festival in 2017, Yellowbird Theatre are excited to present Fronting as their Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut. David is a young man, recently diagnosed with HIV, and anger and rage seem destined to consume him. However the arrival of Will in David's life could change everything for the better. If David lets it.