First Time (4 stars)

This article is from 2019

First Time

Funny and frank autobiographical show on coming to terms with being HIV positive

With a stage strewn with props, costumes and the debris of a party, Nathaniel isn't ready for an audience, he says. In fact, his show is about him getting ready to tell his story – to us, to himself and, most importantly, to his family. Nathaniel had to come out twice: first as a gay man, and second as HIV positive. He contracted the virus from his first boyfriend, Sam, at just 16.

Manchester-based Nathaniel Hall's autobiographical solo show covers a lot of ground – from distressing diagnosis to the glories of the NHS, from the horrific effects of medication to failed later relationships. But underneath, it's a story of self-acceptance with resonances far beyond the specific traumas of his continuing condition.

Hall is a natural, unforced performer and raconteur, gloriously camp at times, yet ready to yank the rug away to expose episodes of despair and torment. He's harrowingly honest about his deepest lows – a sequence dwelling on a cocktail of drugs (both prescribed and otherwise) is particularly moving as are his thoughts on his feelings of guilt and shame.

Unhurried and reflective, First Time is not without moments of fury. But ultimately it's a captivating, life-affirming tale of resilience and determination.

Summerhall, until 25 Aug (not 12, 19), 4.15pm, £14.50 (£12.50).

First Time

  • 4 stars

Nathaniel Hall presented by Dibby Theatre with Waterside Arts Remember your first time? Nathaniel can't forget his. Now the party's over, the balloons have burst and he's living his best queer life: brunching on pills and googling kangaroo vaginas on a weekday morning – or is he? HIV+ theatre-maker Nathaniel Hall presents…