As a gay man who grew into adulthood in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Tony Kushner’s two-part theatrical masterpiece, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, was the definitive cultural marker for my generation of gay people. The play gave articulate voice, unequivocally and unapologetically, to our sense of self, our concerns, our contradictions, and our perspectives on government, history, and community- both ours and the broader social environment. I read it, I read articles and reviews about it, I saw the indelible HBO mini-series, which was directed by Mike Nichols and starred Meryl Streep and Al Pacino, but I’ve never seen a theatrical production. Since I moved to Chicago in 1998, there had been two significant productions in the city, both of which I missed: David Cromer’s legendary, talked-about-in-hushed-tones version for The Journeymen in 1998 and Sean Graney’s take for The Hypocrites in 2006. So I was really excited to see Charles Newell’s new revival for Court Theatre, which, notably, has Kushner’s support and participation, and it did not disappoint. Straightforwardly directed, electrifyingly acted, fluidly designed, Court’s Angels in America is 7 hours of gloriously compelling theater (3 hours for Part I: Millennium Approaches and 4 hours for Part II: Perestroika), with Kushner’s powerful, unforgettable writing, trafficking in both big, global themes, and personal, intimate tragedies, still undeniably relevant in a 21st century American socio-political-cultural milieu that is already an alarming echo of the play’s 1980s Reagan-era setting.
Tags: Court Theatre