Threshold of revelation, guys: Angels in America is one of the most over-hyped plays I’ve ever seen. Irresponsibly long and cripplingly ludicrous, I’m thoroughly convinced that if not for the novelty of the “epic” form coming in the midst of a dark time (1990), to say nothing of the light shed on those living with AIDS (“We will die silent deaths no longer”), Tony Kushner’s script might have gotten the paring down it needed. Instead, it remains a gelatinous mush-up of three different (and slightly overlapping) plays, a set in which the only good one is entirely too preachy and chock full o’ angels with a penchant for the obvious: suffering is a part of life; it is not the end of it.
I walked out of the original production. It was totally clear to me then that the emperor was in his birthday suit, as my mother would say. Its popularity can be explained by the collective guilt being felt in the society at large over the abandonment of AIDS sufferers in the eighties.
And I also read A Bright Room Called Day, a play about, IIRC, whether or not you would kill Hitler if you could go back in time, or some such thing. And then there was the painfully boring Slavs!, unhappily produced at the Yale Rep during my time in grad school. The man’s plays have a bad case of what a character in a Woody Allen movie called “people-don’t-talk-like=that”. Kushner is one of the worst examples of the penchant for candy-assed verbal pyrotechnics that has become the craze in the ensuing years. His plays will be forgotten, and with good reason.