- Series: Angels in America
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Theatre Communications Group; Revised ed. edition (December 24, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781559363846
- ISBN-13: 978-1559363846
- ASIN: 1559363843
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes: Revised and Complete Edition Revised ed. Edition
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Tony Kushner's Angels in America is that rare entity: a work for the stage that is profoundly moving yet very funny, highly theatrical yet steeped in traditional literary values, and most of all deeply American in its attitudes and political concerns. In two full-length plays--Millennium Approaches and Perestroika--Kushner tells the story of a handful of people trying to make sense of the world. Prior is a man living with AIDS whose lover Louis has left him and become involved with Joe, an ex-Mormon and political conservative whose wife, Harper, is slowly having a nervous breakdown. These stories are contrasted with that of Roy Cohn (a fictional re-creation of the infamous American conservative ideologue who died of AIDS in 1986) and his attempts to remain in the closet while trying to find some sort of personal salvation in his beliefs.
But such a summary does not do justice to Kushner's grand plan, which mixes magical realism with political speeches, high comedy with painful tragedy, and stitches it all together with a daring sense of irony and a moral vision that demands respect and attention. On one level, the play is an indictment of the government led by Ronald Reagan, from the blatant disregard for the AIDS crisis to the flagrant political corruption. But beneath the acute sense of political and moral outrage lies a meditation on what it means to live and die--of AIDS, or anything else--in a society that cares less and less about human life and basic decency. The play's breadth and internal drive is matched by its beautiful writing and unbridled compassion. Winner of two Tony Awards and the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for drama, Angels in America is one of the most outstanding plays of the American theater. --Michael Bronski --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A vast, miraculous play... provocative, witty and deeply upsetting... a searching and radical rethinking of American political drama." -Frank Rich, New York Times
"Daring and dazzling! The most ambitious America play of our time: an epic that ranges from earth to heaven; focuses on politics, sex, and religion; transports us to Washington, the Kremlin, the South Bronx, Salt Lake City and Antarctica; deals with Jews, Mormons, WASPs, blacks; switches between realism and fantasy, from the tragedy of AIDS to the camp comedy of drag queens to the death or at least absconding of God Angels in America is the broadest, deepest, most searching American play of our time." - Jack Kroll, Newsweek
Few plays have captured the spirit of an age more powerfully than Angels in America and the passage of time has not clipped Angels’ wings.” Paul Taylor, Independent (London)
Something rare, dangerous, and harrowing a roman candle hurled into a drawing room.” Nicholas de Jongh, London Evening Standard
Angels breaks all the rules to achieve the astonishing integrity of its vision It is a play that has remained utterly of-the-moment.” Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg
The most influential American play of the last two decades.” Patrick Healy, New York Times
That Angels came so close to the burning heart of the Zeitgeist left Kushner fearing he would never get there again. But in fact he has been there so often that he seems to have passed right through it Angels, so much a cry in the dark about AIDS when it was written, seems now to be as much about the Earth’s potentially fatal illness as gay men’s.” Jesse Green, New York
The greatest American play of the waning years of the twentieth century.” Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
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Top Customer Reviews
Definitely read both plays - Millennium Approaches and Peteroiska - because the themes in the first are developed and resolved in the latter. I taught the play to my college students: it really helps if they also watch the HBO production (it is a play, after all, not a novel). My students were bewildered at first, but the HBO version clarified much for them. I think that they ended up really loving Angels and will be thinking for a long time about its important themes. (They all loved Prior a lot.)
Finally, for the theory wonks and those teaching the play at college level: a major influence on Kushner's own work was Walter Benjamin's "The Work of Art in An Age of Mechanical Reproduction." Kushner has stated in interviews that the name, "Prior Walter," is derived from a joking reference to Benjamin between Kushner and a friend. An interesting essay assignment might be to examine the connections betweem Benjamin's theories and Angels. (I'm sure Kushner would think such a comparison totally beside the point - but a wonk is a wonk, and I teach theory (-;
This is not a play for the faint of heart, both in terms of effort and emotion. Nearly every act features a split scene, where two different scenes and locations share the stage and occur simultaneously. The focus of the scene will often switch line by line, making it absolutely essential to read the name of the speaker before reading each line (a habit which many readers, including myself, neglect) and characters will often walk from each side of the stage to another, taking part in the other scene as either an apparition or figment of a character's imagination, despite there being no realistic or logical way for them to suddenly switch locations. Also tricky is the play’s use of magic, which defies the laws of realism in a way much more complicated than the magic found in classic plays such as Hamlet. Nearly all of the main characters have some sort of recurring hallucination, such as Harper’s imaginary friends, Roy’s recurring vision of Ethel Rosenberg (who he sentenced to death) and Prior’s visions of heaven’s angels, and it is intentionally difficult to determine whether these visions are due to mental instability or the side effects of medication, or can simply be attributed to the book’s use of magic.Emotionally, this book is also a difficult read. Watching Prior slowly lose his fight with AIDS is only made more heartbreaking when he is left by Louis, and it is equally as upsetting to watch Louis struggle as he realizes that is not a strong enough person to take care of Prior, despite the fact that he still loves him. Roy Cohn is about as unlikable of a character as it is possible to create, though his inability to admit his homosexuality despite his AIDS diagnosis adds an element of tragedy underneath his shockingly explicit racism, sexism, and homophobia. Some of the lines given to this character are upsettingly repulsive, and are not for the faint of heart. As a whole, this play is not for the faint of heart. Part of the play’s brilliance is its lack of euphemism when describing things such as homosexual intercourse, explicit language, and the horrible symptoms of AIDS. This incredible character development combined with a juxtaposed sense of extremely graphic realness and fantastical magic creates a play that is difficult yet rewarding and extremely moving when a reader is willing to take up the challenge of immersing his or herself in it.
In the end, I would recommend this play to nearly anybody. It is an entertaining yet highly informative take on the AIDS crisis, homosexuality in politics, and human nature. Its central theme discusses the struggle between stasis and perpetual forward motion. The play states that American society needs to resist the urge to stay stationary and idealize the past, and rather needs to move towards a more progressive future. This message is especially relevant in a time of increasing technology and political involvement. Angels in America is a play of unparalleled ambition and scope with themes that are timeless and vital to modern society. There is no reason to not read this novel.
The book itself is very sturdy (I bought the hardcover version), the cover beautiful (even if I'm not a fan of dust jackets) and the pages have held up through three read-throughs so far as I carry this book all over town like a security blanket and read it everywhere from the breakfast table to waiting rooms to my local park. Most satisfying purchase I've made yet. I recommend this to anyone who needs their heart broken and/or healed, or just has space on their bookshelf.