Cash, Patrick. “The HIV Monologues”, Oberon, 2017.
Living with HIV
Patrick Cash explores living with a virus that attacks the emotions as well as the body through a series of monologues that are both funny and filled with emotion. Imagine this scenario: “He’s just your type. But hold on. He’s about to tell you he’s got HIV. How will you respond emotionally? Brush it aside and practice safe sex? Go on to a deeper relationship? Or do you walk away?”
“The HIV Monologues” is full of optimism, yet it does not avoid the very real prejudices that are still aimed at HIV positive people to this very day. It’s educational and informative with characters that find their ways into our hearts. The monologues are entwined together touching on the effects of HIV in the 80s up until the current day and we deal with the senses of stigma, shame, loss and love. HIV has had a devastating impact on the world and especially on the gay community and it has been explored many times in literature and drama. Patrick Cash looks at HIV with a refusal to shy away from the themes that lie within the disease.
The monologues move back and forth between time periods, with interconnecting stories and characters. It was inspired by stories of the 1980s, when the queer community went to extraordinary lengths to compassionately care for their ill friends. Cash has juxtaposed this against HIV stigma today. However, ultimately, this is a story of connection, as two struggling men learn intimacy from history.
Cash has written about very personal and delicate subjects. He feels that it is important to illustrate the ludicrousness of stigma. He has created a character that does not verge on two-dimensional villainy. We gain a sense of empathy through the emotional connection that lies beneath all our external divisions, whether these are nationality, race, sexuality or HIV status. It all resonates through love.