Alana Valentine was inspired to write Savage Grace during the HIV-AIDS pandemic some 20 years ago. The play, which was Steamworks Arts’ debut show, proved a huge success when the company premiered it at The Blue Room theatre in 2001. It delved into the clash of ethical values and the passionate affair, which flared into being between the two protagonists, American HIV special Dr Tex Cladakis and Australian bioethics specialist Dr Robert Bavaro. Now that the world is enduring COVID-19, Valentine has updated her play – as she can, because the debate she is writing about will ever be contentious.

Savage Grace Steamworks Arts

Gibson Nolte and Humphrey Bower in Savage Grace, Steamworks Arts, 2021. Photo © Daniel Grant

With amazing serendipity both Gibson Nolte (Cladakis) and Humphrey Bower (Bavaro), who performed in the original production, were able to reprise their roles. Cricket-lean, charismatic Nolte is a great foil for the ruddy regality of Bower – a Vice-Chancellor in the making if ever I saw one. They attack the aphorisms and conflicts the issue attracts with fluency and precision and...