Angels In America
ANGELS IN AMERICA, A GAY FANTASIA ON NATIONAL THEMES is set in late 1985 and early 1986, as the first wave of the AIDS epidemic in America is escalating and Ronald Reagan has been elected to a second term in the White House. The play’s two parts, MILLENNIUM APPROACHES and PERESTROIKA, bring together a young gay man with AIDS and his frightened, unfaithful lover; a closeted Mormon lawyer and his valium-addicted wife; the infamous New York lawyer Roy Cohn; an African-American male nurse; a Mormon housewife from Utah; and a steel-winged, prophecy-bearing angel; as well as the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg, an ancient rabbi, the world’s oldest living Bolshevik and a Reagan administration functionary, among many others – all played by a company of eight actors. The lives of these disparate characters intersect, intertwine, collide and are blown apart during a time of heartbreak, reaction and transformation. Ranging from earth to heaven, from the political to the intimate to the visionary and supernatural, ANGELS IN AMERICA is an epic exploration of love, justice, identity and theology, of the difficulty, terror and necessity of change.
ANGELS IN AMERICA; Which is subtitled a gay fantasia on American themes. The original Angels in America debuted in New York in 1993 and I don’t know that I saw that original when it first opened but I did see the original. To be quite honest, the reason to see this one is several fold. One, if you weren’t here to see it the first time, it’s a terrific play. Tony Kushner won a Pulitzer and should have for it. It’s terrifically well written. It’s brilliantly conceived and one the reasons to see it now rather than then – because you can’t go back – is it’s in a much smaller theater so it really feels like you’re in the middle of this and it’s a huge advantage in this one. To be quite honest, the cast isn’t quite as good. This is off Broadway. It was Broadway before. They had some big names. So I think the cast the first time was a more remarkable cast and was actually better. This cast is a little uneven. They’re not only uneven in terms of skills but they’re uneven in terms you can see why they were hired — what speech they did at their audition and why they were hired because all of them have some strengths and all of them have some weaknesses. But having said that, that aspect of it is more than offset by the small theater and the fact that this is really terrific playwriting. It’s very well written and very thought provoking and it’s wonderful to see theater about something and this is certainly about something. To a certain extent it’s about everything. To see that the landscape hasn’t changed all that much in the last 16 or 17 years. I would encourage you to go see Angels in America. It is certainly well worth the time and the effort and it’s a bargain these days. Four and a half stars.