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Angels in America: Part One [Millennium Approaches] & Part Two [Perestroika] ((NHB Modern Plays)) Paperback – 12 Apr 2007
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Angels in America is the finest drama of our time, speaking to us of an entire era of life and death as no other play within memory...In its sweep and imagination it defines the collapse of a moral universe during the Reagan years in an unforgettable way, transcending its specific time in the richness of its portrait of an America Lost, perhaps to be regained...It's a pretty funny play too. How we still need it! It ranks as nothing less than one of the greatest plays of the twentieth century. --John Heilpern, New York Observer
The play has never left our cultural consciousness. It is performed regularly in schools and local theaters; it is on the syllabuses of university English and drama classes, and the star-filled 2003 HBO adaptation, directed by Mike Nichols, is in many a home-video library...What Angels does as well as any play I know is create a visceral sense of public and private catastrophes as prisms of one another...The received wisdom about Mr. Kushner is that he is a great playwright. This production reminds us that he is also a good one, which as far as satisfying nights at the theater are concerned, may be more important. --New York Times on the 2010 Signature Theatre Company revival
About the Author
Tony Kushner is also the author of A Bright Room Called Day, Death & Taxes, Homebody/Kabul and Caroline, or Change, all published by Nick Hern Books.
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The play is dramatic and energetic, and this comes through in the text - readers may be a little astounded with the variety and speed of Kushner's scenes - the Antarctic, a hospital, an office, heaven; you name it and this play's probably got it - but this really does work on stage, and makes for an exciting awnd compelling plot
In its scope the play is impressive; it deals with relationships, death, AIDs and homosexuality in 1980s America by creating sympathetic characters (even the unfortunately real life and really unpleasant character of Roy Cohn gains maybe a few grains of sympathy at the end; it's worth noticing how often the stage directions for his speech advocated a 'scared' delivery) which recreate huge promlems on a smaller, human scale. It also takes its subject matter to a more epic level by introducing the guardian angels of the earth, and dealing with spirituality and religion in an increasingly atheistic society. Although set now twenty years in the past, the play still has a great deal of contemporary relevance, and offers a lot to learn on many levels.
At times when reading, the play may feel rather more pretentious than epic, particularly the ending which seems rather saccharine, so while I advocate reading this play - it should move you, make you think and entertain you, what more can you ask? - I would also urge you to remember it is a play, and to seek out a production of it (there is a film, available from Amazon, but whether it is any good, I don't know). Even more than most plays, Kushner's work cries out for the stage, turning saccharine ending into a profound and tear jerking climax, allowing you to fully enjoy his theatricality and bringing this complex work to life. So keep your eyes peeled and an ear to the ground until you find a production. But until then, read the script and enjoy it that way.
I have used this play so many times and fallen in love with it. If you love the TV series, you'll love this. If you love this, you'll love the TV Series. Cannot physically fault this play.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines
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