Tuesday July 31st, 2018.
From the outset, Fronting feels a touch like an invasion of privacy. The play opens with an endearing awkwardness befitting of a one-night stand, complete with playful affection and cheap-looking pink wine. But then, it’s offset — “HIV...I have HIV.” The excitement of it all is swiftly overcome by palpable tension, on stage and in the audience. “People don’t know how to
react,” explains Director/Author Darren Hardie, having a drink with me after the preview. He goes on to explain that, following his own diagnosis in August 2015, Fronting became his way of dispersing the emotional thunderstorm that followed. It’s no surprise then, that Fronting does so much to make you feel like a fly-on-the-wall. From its avoidance of needlessly theatrical
dialogue to its subtle, emotive score, Fronting creates a discursive space that feels one-part counseling session, and one-part autobiographical piece. There’s more to Fronting than discussion, though. Despite its small cast (five in total,) a range of subtle performances at varying degrees of intimacy are on display. David’s opening correspondence with an HIV specialist is measured and clinical, contrary to his later, more heated meetings with his sister and his ex-partner, Michael. It’s in this scene that Fronting
shows the depth of its sensitivity. It’s an exchange rich with micro-gesture, with supporting actor Luke O’Hara bringing an intensity and very human sense of guilt. By the culmination of this scene, Fronting somehow manages to retain a certain romance as well, serving as a literal “...reminder that it wasn’t all bad.” From my conversation with Darren, I get the impression that this is something he was perhaps aiming for. “It’s breaking down stigma” says Hardie, clearly invested in bringing his condition into a more conversational light. Reminding people through his own personal endurance that HIV isn’t the death sentence it’s made out to be is tangibly his aim, and by extension, the aim of Fronting. The logistics of treatment, and the names of numerous
supporting medications are included in the dialogue, making Fronting as informative as it is moving. It’s all for a good cause too; Yellowbird Theatre (Hardie’s company) are working with Waverley Care, to provide funding for Scotland’s leading HIV and Hepatitis C charity. Yellowbird’s Fringe run spans the 1st to the 27th August (not including the 14th) at 12:45pm in the Pleasance Attic. Ticket information is available on the official Fringe Website here https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/fronting. Though Yellowbird will be carrying donation buckets after each show day, more information about Waverley Care can be found at
For an afternoon of catharsis, learning and most of all, hope, STC recommends not missing Fronting by Darren Hardie.