The princess, the patient, and the handshake that changed the face of AIDS.

In the 35th anniversary year of Princess Diana’s famous handshake with an AIDS patient, Bren Gosling’s (PROUD, King’s Head Theatre; Invisible Me, Studio at New Wimbledon Theatre; I, Minnie Lansbury, Bloomsbury Festival) award-winning play Moment of Grace returns to tell the story of the ground-breaking moment that sent shockwaves around the world. Following a critically acclaimed showcase at Bloomsbury Festival, this arresting one-act play will now be staged at the intimate Hope Theatre for a three week run.

Based on personal testimonies, Moment of Grace tells of the famous visit by Diana, Princess of Wales, to Britain’s first AIDS Unit in 1987 and its impact on three people – Andrew, a patient, Jude, a nurse, and Donnie, a fireman estranged from his son. In a world where even being seen to work on this ward could cost you everything, this act paved the way for a major shift in the public perception of people living with HIV and AIDS. Worldwide interest, news crews and a televised interview followed. To change public misconceptions, would you have risked it? Addressing an untold but incredibly important part of recent LGBTQ+ and collective history, Moment of Grace will make you laugh, cry, get angry, and open your heart.

The play won the NO: INTERMISSION International One Act Play Competition in 2020. A filmed version was streamed from The Actors Centre, and this was awarded an ONCOM Commendation by The Offies.

Writer Bren Gosling comments, I am thrilled that my play Moment of Grace will at last get a proper staged run on the 35th anniversary of the event that inspired it. This piece of theatre brings home the importance of compassion and human touch when all else falls away, something which resonates particularly today in our emergence from the current pandemic. AIDS was once taboo, LGBTQ+ people had few civil or legal rights and were often publicly vilified and ridiculed by the press and media alike. In the face of terrible times, society needs both celebrity and private heroes who are willing to make a stand for what is right and to speak out against prejudice and hate. Diana Princess of Wales did this, as did countless others, unsung and long forgotten. Moment of Grace brings attention to some of their stories. We have come a long way… This play reminds us of just how far we’ve come, and the debt we owe to those who have gone before us.

Moment of Grace is created by Backstory Ensemble Productions in association with The National HIV Story Trust, who will jointly host a 45-minute panel Q&A after the matinée performance on Saturday 9th July.

Dates Tuesday 28th June – Saturday 16th July 2022 (except Sundays and Mondays)

Location The Hope Theatre, 207 Upper St, London N1 1RL

How to get there The Hope Theatre is situated inside the Hope & Anchor pub on the corner of Upper Street and Islington Park Street. The nearest station is Highbury & Islington (Victoria Line, Overground and First Capital Connect) and Angel (Northern Line). The nearest bus stop is Islington Town Hall, which is served by routes 4, 19, 30 and 43.

Show Times 7.45pm
9th and 16th July matinées 4pm

Running time 60 minutes

Age Guidance 14+, this production contains language in common use in Britain during the 1980s which may cause offence to contemporary audiences

Tickets Tickets are on sale from £10 - £16 and can be purchased online at or by contacting the box office on 0333 666 3366

Bren Gosling

Bren is a writer and novelist whose monologues and plays have been performed at New Wimbledon Theatre, RADA Studios, Bloomsbury Theatre, The Pleasance, The Arcola, OSO Barnes, Rose & Crown E17, Bloomsbury Festival and Brighton Fringe. A member of The Society of Authors, Club for Acts and Actors, he’s also an award-winning short story writer (Exeter, London, Brighton Short Story Prizes) published in numerous anthologies, and his novel The Street Sweeper (from which his play PROUD is inspired) won the 2021 Novel London Literary Prize. In Summer/Autumn 2019, Bren wrote with Royal Court Theatre’s Waltham Forest Listen Local. His play Invisible Me about how three Londoners turning 60 overcome loneliness and sexual isolation livestreamed at Bloomsbury Festival 2020 and had a one week run with stellar press reviews at ATG’s New Wimbledon Theatre Studio in September 2021. He received his first paid commission in 2020/21 to write a new play for the George Lansbury Memorial Trust to mark the centenary of the Poplar Councillors’ Revolt – I, Minnie Lansbury, which premiered at the 2021 Bloomsbury Festival. Bren’s play PROUD won a call out by ATG in 2020, was long listed for the 2020 Radius Playwriting Prize and had a sell-out run with 4 and 5-star reviews at the Kings Head Theatre in Islington early this year.

Su Gilroy

Su is a freelance theatre director with more than fifty productions to her credit, ranging from productions in number one venues (Gaslight, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre) to classic plays in rep (An Inspector Calls, Sidmouth Manor Pavilion) to new writing (Bren Gosling’s I, Minnie Lansbury, Bloomsbury Festival; Invisible Me, Wimbledon Theatre Studio).

Theresa Burke-Findlay

Having first trained as an actor at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Theresa is now an emerging director and has recently completed her Masters in Theatre Directing at Mountview College. Moment of Grace is her second professional job as Assistant Director, and she is delighted to be working on this production.