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Review: Toxic at HOME is ‘a fearless exploration of HIV stigma, racism, homophobia, and toxic gender norms’

"Toxic" is a riveting theatrical journey that delves into the profound challenges faced by two LGBTQ+ individuals, offering an emotional exploration of love, trauma, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of HIV stigma, racism, and homophobia.

“Toxic” is a mesmerising theatrical journey that takes the audience on a rollercoaster ride through love, trauma, and the resilient spirit of two people from the LGBTQ+ community.

Set within Manchester in 2017, this semi-autobiographical play, written by Nathaniel J Hall (he/they) and performed by Nathaniel alongside Josh-Susan Enright (they/them), offers a multi-dimensional experience that blends storytelling, movement, stunning design, and visual projections to create an emotional theatrical performance.

At its core, “Toxic” delves into the story of two damaged hearts, both grappling with their unique challenges. One character is HIV+, burdened by shame and living with the stigma surrounding the virus.

The other character is queer and constantly on the edge of a full-blown meltdown, dealing with the weight of racism and past trauma from previously in their life.

Born into a society marked by race riots, and rampant homophobia, and growing up in the shadow of the AIDS epidemic and Section 28, these two characters form a bond that is as tight as it is fragile.

The power of “Toxic” lies in its fearless exploration of the generational HIV stigma, racism, homophobia, and toxic gender norms that continue to affect members of the LGBTQ+ community today.

It dares to pull back the glittery curtain of pride and reveal a world where the struggle for acceptance, identity, and survival is very real and very damaging.

The play celebrates the resilience of the queer spirit in the face of adversity, shedding light on the often-unseen struggles faced by LGBTQ+ individuals.

However, the play also underscores a poignant truth: sometimes, survival means knowing when to let go. The emotional depth and complexity of the characters’ journeys are masterfully portrayed, leaving the audience with a profound sense of empathy and understanding.

It’s important to note that a lot of the story of “Toxic” is true and is all based around the real life of Nathaniel J Hall. Knowing this brings another level to the play and creates even more depth to the characters and what truly happened only 6 years ago.

Dibby Theatre, an award-winning national touring theatre company based in Manchester, is at the helm of this powerful production.

Their commitment to telling urgent and untold stories is evident in the wit, grit, and soul of their work.

Beyond the stage, Dibby Theatre extends its reach to celebrate and support the diverse communities they serve, making a positive impact that goes beyond the theatre.

In a world that continues to grapple with issues of equality, acceptance, and love, “Toxic” serves as a powerful reminder of the strength of the human spirit and the resilience of the LGBTQ+ community. This play is a must-see for anyone seeking a moving, emotional and thought-provoking experience. Moreover this play is a must-see for the LGBTQ+ community as it sheds light on a subject which might be easily passed over, but the conversation and story needs to be told.

The show is running at HOME until 28th October before heading out on tour around the UK.

Tickets can be bought here:


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