Moment of Grace, a new drama exploring the monumental action taken by Princess Diana when she visited a London AIDS ward, has been transformed from an award-winning stage show into a film in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Producers are hoping to bring it to screens soon.
Bren Gosling’s play was due to run at the Tristan Bates Theatre in June and July. When COVID-19 closed the theatres, Gosling was so determined to bring an important story to a wider audience that, together with director Nicky Allpress and producer Paul Coleman, he worked to film the production. Rather than simply a filmed version of the play, the result is a unique theatre/film hybrid production of new play writing made within the restrictions of lockdown. It is a tale about one pandemic, created as the world struggles to come to grips with a new one. With filming complete, the search for a screening partner has begun.
Moment of Grace is set in 1987. Princess Diana’s landmark visit to a London AIDS ward has sparked world-wide interest, with camera crews and a televised interview. But AIDS remains taboo. Even being seen to work on this ward could cost you everything. To change public misconceptions, would you have risked it?
Told through the eyes of Jude, a nurse on the ward, Andrew, a patient, and Donnie, a fireman estranged from his son, this ground-breaking new play Moment of Grace tells how the Princess’s visit brought critical attention to AIDS awareness through empathy and acts of kindness. At a time when we are wary of coming in contact with each other, it is the story of the power of a handshake.
A stage version of Moment of Grace premiered to sold out audiences at Bloomsbury Festival in in 2018 and played a special performance at St Anne’s Church, Soho, on World AIDS Day the same year. The play won the 2020 No: Intermission International One Act Play Festival and was due to air in the NO: Intermission Festival in Sydney Australia this month. That run was also cancelled due to Covid.
Lucy Walker Evans, Luke Dayhill and Andrew Paul star in the production, which was filmed during lockdown using a sanitised smartphone camera and basic kit couriered between performers.
Walker Evans reunites with director Allpress, who she previously worked with on the 2019 staging of Market Boy at the Union Theatre. Her other credits include Conquest (Bunker Theatre and The Vaults), ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore (Tristan Bates Theatre) and Punk Rock (Pocketful Productions).
Oxford School of Drama graduate Dayhill boasts credits including Small (Soho Theatre), Three Sisters (North Wall Arts Centre) and The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Chapel Street and Osama The Hero (all Hats Off Studios).
Paul is best known as The Bill’s PC Dave Quinnan, a role he played in the long-running ITV drama for 13 years. He also played Maxwell Moon in EastEnders, appeared as a regular in Where The Heart Is and had roles in cult hit films Scum and Bugsy Malone.
Playwright Gosling, who is also a three times winner of City Writes Short Story Competition, has had work performed at The Pleasance, Arcola, OSO Barnes, Rose & Crown E17, Bloomsbury Festival, Brighton Fringe, Liar’s League (HK.) His play Proud had rehearsed readings at the Union Theatre with Q & A by Rikki Beadle Blair MBE in July 2019.
Director Allpress was Staff Director on the National Theatre’s production My Brilliant Friend and previously directed productions including Market Boy, Mercy, My Fair Lady and Blackadder. She is part of the Young Vic’s Directors Programme.
Gosling and Allpress have been supported by the National HIV Story Trust in turning their vision of a stage show into a film, with a grant from The SE Franklin Trust. The National HIV Story Trust is a UK charity, which aims to preserve and tell the story of those affected by the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s.