IT'S A SIN illuminates pain with passion
Like his groundbreaking series Queer as Folk from 1999, writer Russel T. Davies introduces the ensemble we will love till we lose them in small quiet ways. At dinner on the Isle of Wight is Rictchie who was to act; Ruben who is moribund by his immigrant family from Africa; Colin is not sure what he wants but will record and remembers everything. They are a charming lot as they discover the men and life in the early 80’s in London. The pace is kinetic, the bodies are great; Hooked on Classics never sounded so good. Peter Hoar’s direction is tight and to the point.
But it is in Episode two when we center on Jill, inspired by real activist Jill Nalder, that the story crystalizes into flashes of laughter and onslaughts of tears. Jill is curios, and eager to learn what is happening to her mates. She is slow to criticize and never blames. It is a wonderful character, and Lydia West - so good in Davis’ YEARS AND YEARS – is again terrific.
I saw a talkback with the cast where one after another of the stars - Olly Alexander, Nathanial Curtis, Shaun Dooley, Omari Douglas and Neil Ashton among a great many others - said a variation of ‘I didn’t know anything about AIDS before I started this project.’ But in Britain, where the program was a smash hit, AIDS testing is up, and in the daily conversation again.
If you lived through this period, you could no doubt populate several seasons worth of stories of those loved and lost. The cruelty of parents and teachers, those who were supposed to save us. The cowardice of doctors, counselors, and politicians. And the nonstop beat of the music and the men so willing to be whisked away for a moment or a night – it did not matter as long as it made a memory.
Whether a friend or member of the LGBTQ community, or eager to learn more human stories, IT’S A SIN should not be missed.