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Angels In America: Part One
Written by Brenton Amies   
Tuesday, 24 February 2009 01:35
Angels In America – Part OnePhotos - Kristen Elsby

It’s a tall order when a company decides to mount ‘the most ambitious American play of our time’, but this was certainly achieved.
Angels in America, Part one: Millennium Approaches
is Tony Kushner’s epic two part play dealing with Homosexuality, Religion, Mental Health, Culture and HIV/AIDS. This is dire subject matter and the idea of seeing a two and a half hour play about said ideas could very quickly turn into a hostage situation, were it not for Kushner’s masterful writing. It essentially revolves around five lead characters; Louis a neurotic, gay Jew who, finding it difficult to deal with his partner's (Prior) battle with HIV/AIDS, leaves home. Joe Pitt is a closeted homosexual and Mormon Republican who deals with his own sexuality and the decision of whether to take a promotion from his boss Roy Cohn, owing to a struggle with his agoraphobic wife, Harper. Roy deals with his own waning health as he is diagnosed with HIV/AIDS due to many indiscretions with male prostitutes. 

The storylines flow neatly side by side and intersect with great dramaturgical precision. On top of the intersecting narratives involving the lead characters, the play flits nicely between sections of surrealism and naturalism. The two nicely contrast and take you entirely out of the reality concerning the characters.

Despite the plot sounding gloomy, I never felt as though I was struggling to sit through this bleak vision of 1980s New York City, ravaged by AIDS and political upheaval-the whole message is delivered with a sense of humour, without being flippant.

This production was lavishly delivered; a remount of a previous season, the set is limited to a godot-esque tree fashioned into the shape of two clambering seraphims from whose long branches drapes a wing - which is used as a projector screen to great effect, minimal and far from distracting. Alex Galeazzi’s direction is dynamic, given the challenge a director would face with mounting this production. His choice to have characters linger in the back of scenes, or contrast scenes together of the same dramatic content by having them played on either side of the screen was a simple but highly effective convention which gave the production a definite identity. Characterisation across the board was flawless, and a word cannot be said against any of the ensemble formed to deliver this piece. In particular, Anthony Gooley and Akos Armont who stepped in for Louis and Prior just weeks before the production went up. 

This is a play that asks a lot, hence its moniker of ‘most ambitious’, from everyone involved - and everyone involved stepped up to the challenge and left achieving an outstanding result. The only question I have of this production is - when are we going to see part two?

by Tony Kushner

Directed by Alex Galeazzi
Venue: Riverside Theatres | Corner Church and Market Streets, Parramatta
Dates: 11-21 February 2009
Price: Adults $38 / Concessions and NMG members $32
Bookings: 8839 3399 or
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