Mikella Etchegoyen's Reviews > Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes

Angels in America by Tony Kushner
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's review
Nov 15, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, books-i-read-for-school, adapted-or-to-be-adapted-to-film
Read in October, 2010 — I own a copy

I had to read the play Angels in America for my ENGL 380 class. I had put off buying the book til the last minute and it got to be that the only place I could get it was at Barnes and Noble. I had no idea what it was about, I had heard there was an HBO film even version because it was up for awards awhile back, but I really didn’t know much about it. Now that I have read it I can say it is 100% worth the $18 I had to pay for the book.

For one, it’s refreshing to read a play that is from this century. I can actually understand exactly what is going on, even when what is going on is strange and unusual. The language is modern and that makes it a quicker read than say, Shakespeare. Haha. ANd by quick read, I mean quick. I bought it Sunday morning at like 11am, twelve hours later of splotchy reading, I had blown through 160 pages. And if I wasn’t exhausted and if I didn’t have to get up to go to class the next morning, it was so captivating that I could have stayed up all night to read it to the end (something I haven’t done since Deathly Hallows came out).

Angels in America is set in the mid 80s when the nation was in the midst of the AIDS crisis. The two plays that make up Angels in America, center around characters from three groups of people: gays, Mormons, and Jews. While you may be hard pressed to find a similarity between the three, once you’ve followed the characters through their struggles, you can see that there are things which tie these three groups of people together. While they appear so vastly different, they can find similarities in each other to which they can relate to each other through.

My 380 instructor says she would classify this play as a comedy, and while Angels in America deals with serious subject matter and is politically driven, I am inclined to agree with her. If you look at the typical conventions and structures of a dramatic comedy, Angels in America follows quite a few of them. But the classification of the play was far from my mind while actually reading it. I was too deeply immersed in the story to even think of anything but finding out what happened next.

And, what reading it really accomplished was me wanting to see it performed live as it was meant to be seen. I can read the words, and I can vividly visualize it in my head, but I kept thinking, “God, how amazing would it be to actually see it.” And I don’t mean the HBO minit series (though I would love to see that as well), but actually live and embodied on a theater stage. I can’t imagine what that experience would be like. While I loved the experience of reading the play, I bet it would pale in comparison to seeing it live (in the way listening to a CD is satisfying, but it isn’t the same as the energy and rush of going to a concert).

Can you tell I loved it? One of the few assigned readings that I could possibly have picked up on my own and read for fun. That doesn’t happen very often. Not often at all.

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