New York, 1985. Mid Reagan era. Mid AIDS epidemic. Tony’s Kushner bizarre, magnificent, two part play can only be described as a epic, theatrical marathon. This is why I love theatre.
The play follows a group of people all somehow connected. Prior Walter (Andrew Garfield) suffering from AIDs, hallucinating his ancestors; his Boyfriend Louis (James McArdle) suffering from his hallucinating lover; the closeted Roy (Nathan Lane) also suffering from AIDs and hallucinating dead people; Harper (Denise Gough) suffering from an existential crisis and hallucinating Eskimos and her husband Joe (Russel Tovey) the closeted republican. There’s a thin line between hallucinations and reality, all the while there’s an an overwhelming anticipation of something coming. The whole show is seriously freaky and I’m told part two only gets freakier. Just when I got comfortable and thought I knew what I was watching the set unfurled itself like an ominous labyrinth.
The performances are faultless from everyone of the all-star cast. What could potentially be boring, stereotypical characters are developed in 3 dimensional humans that jump off the stage. The use of multi-roling is also the best I have seen in a long time.
Usually I would say that a two part play (the first act having two intervals!) is a little indulgent – it does no favours for the battle for theatre inclusivity. However I can excuse it in certain exceptional occasions (Harry Potter – OMG so good) for which this is one. I just hope this does not become a trend in future play-writing. It’s difficult enough to get tickets to one play! I’m having to watch part two at my local cinema with National Theatre live on the 27th of July. I cannot wait!
Angels in America is at the National Theatre until the 19th of August. But good luck getting tickets because everything is sold out! My friend Amy, got these tickets through the £20 ballot which you can enter. Or there are £15 (£30/33 for double show days) day tickets if you show up before 9:30am. Although, apparently quenes for Angels in America have been known to start as early as 6am!