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Testing Times at Trent House, Newcastle

Published by: Cameron Lowe on 23rd Apr 2013 | View all blogs by Cameron Lowe

Review by Ed Waugh

Testing TimesThe title of this excellent debut piece by Steve Burbridge has a double meaning; testing as in being tested for a sexually transmitted disease and testing as to the turbulent and difficult times for the person and his loved ones when diagnosed HIV.

Burbridge, who also directed and produced the show, conducted extensive interviews with men infected with HIV and AIDS and has created a no-holds-barred but ultimately warm and at times funny, heartfelt story about suffering, friendship and compassion.

Dominic (Christopher Strain) is the 20-something who relates how he always knew he was different. At school he was bullied for wanting to play catchy kissy but on the girls’ side and he’d fight with is sister because he wanted to play with her dolls. Tynemouth-based Strain gives a heart-rending account of being sexually abused as a teenager and his joy when he later met Chris (Collin Baxter).

Chris gives his perspective of their meeting and life together and the initially wary response of Dominic’s loving mother Brenda (Pauline Fleming).

When Dominic is diagnosed HIV we encounter the public and inner angst and fears of all three characters.

HIV is incurable and not without major physical discomfort for the sufferer but it is a treatable disease. This play is not for the faint-hearted: medical facts are related in graphic detail.

Through a series of monologues and informal interjections we witness the tumultuous but ultimately loving relationship between all three. And your heart goes out to young Dominic whose sexual transgressions are minor on a scale compared with some heterosexual men at that stage in his life but he’s been unlucky.

The upshot is that this moving, well-crafted and well-acted piece could pertain to any family with a loved one suffering from a life-threatening disease.

Ed Waugh

Testing Times is at The Trent House, Leazes Lane, Newcastle, until Saturday 27 April.  For ticket information and times contact (0191) 261 2154


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Thanks, Ed. Sounds like a great piece. Congratulations to Steve and the cast and crew.
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