I only recently saw Angels in America, A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, in its star-studded, HBO miniseries version (Meryl Streep, Al Pacino and Emma Thompson come to mind) and approaching the theatrical version in the knowledge that I would sit through a marathon 9-hour performance, my biggest question was, how would they portray the angels on stage? The staging is actually magical, thanks to master puppeteers playing the angel’s shadow and wings. Tony Kushner’s writing is excellent, engaging and engaged, the jokes are funny, the Pulitzer winning plot digs dip into the recent history of the US and its idiosyncrasies, the domineering force is what in the eighties was considered a new plague, the red plague, Aids. The play was written in 1993 but has not aged one iota. The comparison with the TV series actors was impossible to avoid (i.e. Nathan Lane v. Al Pacino portraying historical lawyer and hate figure Roy Cohn, Andrew Garfield v. Justin Kirk as the wonderfully camp Prior Walter, Denise Gough v. Mary-Louise Parker as the troubled but gloriously funny Harper Pitt) but nothing can beat a live performance when the collective acting is that good.

Angels in America by Tony Kushner – National Theatre London 28 June 2017

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