Everyone remembers “Longtime Companion”, “The Normal Heart” and “The Band Played On” all very important and powerful works about AIDS and its effects in the 1980’s. But “As Is” by William F. Hoffman is a lesser known work but just as powerful and sadly now all but languishes in obscurity.
The original Broadway production of “As Is” opened at the Lyceum Theater in New York on May 1, 1985 after an extended Off-Broardway run and ran for 285 performances. It was nominated for the 1985 Tony Award (New York City) for the Best Play and won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play
As Is focuses on the effect that AIDS, at the time when the outbreak first began and the effect it has on a group of friends living in New York City. It was one of the first plays, and subsequent television films, depicting how the pandemic was affecting LGBT Americans, being produced shortly before Larry Kramer‘s play The Normal Heart was first performed on April 21, 1985.
This play revolves around a gay couple, Saul and Rich, who are in charge of opening up the play, separating. But Rich’s firm resolution is not that decisive, for he returns to Saul’s arms once he contracts AIDS from his new lover. Seeking emotional support, Rich stages how the diseased are treated by the American family, doctors, and friends.
It’s nearly impossible today to find a complete copy of the television production but there is a short clip to watch below and the play is available through Amazon.com.