Rapids provides us with a startling insight into the lives of people living with HIV in Ireland today. It concentrates predominately on the idea of disclosure, the pain and anxiety that these individuals must endure in the process of revealing to their nearest and dearest that they are HIV+.
The beauty of this Talking Shop production is that the piece is so firmly rooted in reality. The company collaborated with a number of groups within the HIV community and the stories they are tell are thus true stories, making this piece of documentary theatre one of the most innovative pieces current being performed as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.
The use of repetition to emphasise particular points is a highly effective tool which is utilised with great skill throughout the 90 minute production. Long after the play is over, I still have the line ‘I take my pill every day’ running through my thoughts.
The three actors (Aisling Byrne, Lisa Walsh and writer Shaun Dunne) introduce us to a myriad of different characters from various walks of light, from a scared young man from a small town in the country, to a migrant woman seeking asylum. Each individual story is treated with the respect it so rightly deserves.
The cast use television screens to portray images of Live Aid and other aids related broadcasts. This does not distract from the gravitas of the topic at hand, but rather adds to the global yet localised nature of the disease being discussed. Shaun Dunne’s ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ references give the audience a much needed comic respite from the highly intense, hard-hitting theatrical experience that is Rapids.
Rapids give us an insight into a secretive world, where people feel stigmatised and ostracised by societies viewpoint of a disease few seem to understand. It sets out to make the private public, and tackles a difficult subject with remarkable courage and aplomb.
By Laura Carroll