We Raise Our Hands In The Sanctuary

Many plays have considered the impact of the 1980s Aids epidemic on the gay community but We Raise Our Hands In The Sanctuary is the first I recall to focus on black homosexuals. This new work by Daniel Fulvio and Martin Moriarty, which made its debut at the Albany, follows two friends (Jahvel Hall and  Oseloka Obi) as they look for love and security in London’s dance clubs as Aids ravages their world. But this is no misery memoir – the characters are hellbent on seizing the moment, a philosophy enshrined perfectly by drag queen Brandi, brilliantly brought to life by Carl Mullaney, who gets all the best lines and gives the piece real soul. There is excellent support from Dean Graham as doomed club-owner Paul and, in a neat touch, from dancers Jordan Acadia and Shawn Willis, whose sinuous choreography (by Mina Adoo) works as a mute but highly effective Greek chorus. There is not, frankly, enough pounding music in a play with disco at its heart, and it doesn’t quite capture the almost apocalyptic feeling that greeted the eruption of Aids. But this is still a fine production of a fine – and important – new piece. 

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