This book offers a loosely organised collection of 18 essays on Kushner's play "Angels in America". If you are looking for a coherent exploration of the underlying themes and metaphors of this epic drama, you will not find it here. The contributions each stand very much on their own and highlight the work from a random, even somewhat bewildering diversity of angles. Most of them are highly abstract and philosophical. You will come across sentences like "The ambivalences that are so deeply described in Angels in America, its conflicted relationship to various utopianisms, to the concept of America, to Marxism, Mormonism, and liberalism, function, I believe, to accommodate the play to what I see as a fundamentally conservative and paradigmatically American politic - dissensus, the `hermeneutics of laissez-faire'," or, "Epic theatre needs to construct the experience of ideological contradiction as the mode of subjectivity it projects for spectators rather than the ideological totalization implied in supporter, judgment, empathy or even detachment."
There is a lot of repetition. The exposition about Walter Benjamin's essay `Theses on the Philosophy of History', seminal in the genesis of the play, is illuminating when it occurs in the first essay, but becomes wearisome on its third or fourth repetition several essays further on. Nearly all the authors focus on the obvious key scenes in the play (e.g., the opening of Millennium, the closing of Perestroika), which are also cited repetitively, and though their different viewpoints lend extra depth to these scenes, many others remain undiscussed. I was furthermore disappointed by the strong accent on AinA as a gay lib and/or AIDS play, and the comparative neglect of its universal meaning and appeal (as demonstrated by the extraordinary success of the recent HBO televised version). Some contributions struck me as pointless or out of place: the interview with Robert Altman was already superseded by later development at the time the book went to press, and though the editors think it offers worthwhile visions of Kushner, Altman's most common answer to questions appears to be `I don't know'. De Jongh's essay about AinA in London is more about British censorship history than Kushner's play.
All in all a very mixed bag, that I'm not sure I wholeheartedly recommend.