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Saturday, 13 May 2017 13:37

Angels in America To Play Cineplex Theatres This July

Written by  Dennis Kucherawy
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National Theatre’s Sold-Out “Angels in America” To Play Cineplex Theatres This July

Universally acclaimed 25th Anniversary Production of Tony Kushner’s Stage Classic Features All-Star Cast including Nathan Lane, Andrew Garfield and Olivier Award-winning Denise Gough

National Theatre Live Broadcasts begin Thursday, July 20th at Cineplex Theatres Throughout Canada

By Dennis Kucherawy

“…a 25th-anniversary revival that confirms its place in the pantheon of dreams that stretch toward the heavens.  In the case of `Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes,’ the sky is no the limit, and no work of theatre since has quite matched its reach.”

 

-      The New York Times, Ben Brantley, May 5th, 2017th

“Angels” has returned to London’s National Theatre where it had its European debut a quarter-of-a-century ago.  And it’s a sensation!

Tickets for its current star-studded production of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America (AiA)” this time at its Lyttelton Theatre were sold-out before opening night earlier this month.  According to NT’s website www.nationaltheatre.org.uk, a few tickets are available on the day of each performance and through an “Angels Ballot” lottery.

Another way to to see the two plays that comprise this epic is at Cineplex Theatres.  They are broadcasting it as part of of its NT LIVE series beginning July 20th.

Tony and Olivier Award-winning director Marianne Elliott, who is celebrated for her imaginative and brilliant work on the international hit plays “War Horse” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” leads a stellar cast including movie star Andrew Garfield (“The Amazing Spiderman 1 & 2,” “Hacksaw Ridge”) as Prior Walter, Nathan Lane (“The Producers”) as Roy Cohn and Olivier Award-winning Denise Gough (“People, Places, Things”) as Harper Pitt.

“Angels in America” is told in two plays that together last approximately seven hours:  Part One – “Millennium Approaches” and Part Two – “Perestroika.”  It is set in New York in the mid-1980s during the right-wing Reagan administration that is ignoring the raging AIDS crisis.  “Angel’s” characters struggle, as the National Theatre explains, with “life and death, love and sex and heaven and hell.”

Against this setting, Kushner explores homosexuality and life during the Plague Years of AIDS.  Actors play numerous roles including ghosts from the past… for example, Ethel Rosenberg… or supernatural beings… of course, for example, the Angel.  In dreams and visions, they visit Antarctica and even a surprising depiction of Heaven.

Centred on the life of AIDS patient Prior Walter and his troubled relationship with his partner, Louis, the play also has several story lines including one about notorious lawyer Roy Cohn, a hateful, hurtful, closeted character who denies he has AIDS.

Cohn is emblematic of how President Reagan’s administration ignored the thousands of people dying of AIDS.  Now, a quarter-of-a-century later with Donald Trump in the White House, the play still resonates, as Ben Brantley of the New York Times observes:

“An expressly political response to a specific social crisis – the White House’s delayed (reaction) to the AIDS epidemic that was devastating the gay population in the United States in the 1980s - `Angels’ might seem to be too topical for immorality.  To receive an AIDS diagnosis in 2017 is no longer to be handed a death sentence.  Now extinction by nuclear war – or a terrorist attack or ecocide – looms as a likelier prospect in the popular imagination.

“But the climate of fear and anger Mr. Kushner summoned feels, if anything, even more pervasive today than it did when `Angels’ first opened.  It makes sense that Ms. Elliot…has transformed the New York City of three decades ago into a land of endless night.  In this `Angels,’ time feels frozen at 3 a.m.”

Kushner’s brilliant script pulses with life, love, energy, desire and rage.  His dialogue is, to coin a description, “muscular.”  An example is one scene in which he deals with racial hatred.

Belize, a defiant, angry, gay friend of Prior’s who is also Roy Cohn’s nurse, confesses to Louis, Prior’s boyfriend: “I hate America, Louis.  I hate this country.  It’s just big ideas, and stories, and people dying, and people like you.  The white cracker who wrote the national anthem knew what he was doing.  He set the word “free” to a note so high nobody can reach it.  That was deliberate.  Nothing on earth sounds less like freedom to me.  You come with me to Room 1013 over at the hospital.  I’ll show you America.  Terminal, crazy and mean.  I live in America, Louis, that’s hard enough.  I don’t have to love it.  You do that.  Everybody’s got to love something.”

But there are also passages of love, hope and beauty: “Don’t be afraid; people are so afraid; don’t be afraid to live in the raw wind, naked, alone… Learn at least this:  What you are capable of.  Let nothing stand in your way.”

And there’s wit and humor: “Respect the delicate ecology of your delusions.”

After seeing four earlier productions of “Angels,” the two plays still leave Ben Brantley of the New York Times exhilarated: “Even afer the seven hours of bum-numbing sitting it demands (not counting intermissions,) it continues to leave its audiences not exhausted by energized – including this critic.”

Show Times:

Thursday, July 20th – AiA Part One – Millennium Approaches

Thursday, July 27th – AiA Part Two – Perestroika

Both broadcasts begin at 7 p.m.

For locations, please visit www.cineplex.com.

Tickets can be purchased online or at any participating Cineplex theatre.

Visit Song & Script to order the DVD of the Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning mini-series of AiA directed by Mike Nichols with another stellar cast featuring Meryl Streep and Al Pacino.  Thomas Newman’s soundtrack of the production is also available on CD.

By Dennis Kucherawy

Last modified on Saturday, 13 May 2017 13:48
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