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Angels in America

(Angels in America #1-2)

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  15,441 ratings  ·  697 reviews
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 tha ...more
Paperback, Complete Edition; Movie Tie-In Edition, 304 pages
Published November 1st 2003 by Theatre Communications Group (first published May 1st 1993)
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Angela Tricarico i have! it's masterfully directed and acted, just all-around brilliant!
Emma Depends on what triggers the love.
If the frivolous gayness attracts, then maybe 'The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert' would be something…more
Depends on what triggers the love.
If the frivolous gayness attracts, then maybe 'The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert' would be something you could like. Or 'Flawless' with Robert de Niro. If OTOH it's the quick wit, the smart repartee you appreciate, you may enjoy the writings of Aaron Sorkin, like 'The American President' or 'The West Wing'.
Unfortunately, I haven't found anything that combines the two, and adds angels to the mix to boot.
If anyone does know of such a work, I would be interested to know about that title too. :)(less)
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
"Night flight to San Francisco; chase the moon across America. God, it’s been years since I was on a plane. When we hit 35,000 feet we’ll have reached the tropopause, the great belt of calm air, as close as I’ll ever get to the ozone. I dreamed we were there. The plane leapt the tropopause, the safe air, and attained the outer rim, the ozone, which was ragged and torn, patches of it threadbare as old cheesecloth, and that was frightening. But I saw something that only I could see because of my a ...more
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: joshbooks
Reading these plays aloud in a high school class created more than a few awkward moments.
Barry Pierce
Genuinely a bit taken aback by how.....not well Angels in America works as a text. It's really a work that has to be seen, and endured.
Millennium Approaches still quite clearly the stronger of the plays, Perestroika still too meandering and arduous but nonetheless a good counterbalance.
I'd love to do a production of Angels where every heavy-handed symbol is announced by a klaxon and a flashing blue beacon like that one from The Bill. Then at the Oliviers I'd stealthily but gracefully vomit my g
Rebecca McNutt
I've never seen this play performed in person, but reading it in print was still a powerful experience. The AIDS crisis of the 1980's hit when my parents were teenagers, so I don't really remember it, but I think Angels in America really captures it in a way that can be universal to anyone. It is hard in a world with such differing, polarized views on politics, religion, sexuality and gender, to create a story that can have something for everyone and address it all at once. Angels in America doe ...more
Mar 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
Kushner's overheated - and vastly overrated - opus sent me scurrying for my Yma Sumac CD, "The Voice of the Xtaby." When I want a guest to leave my apartment, I put it on with the admonition, "You must hear her 5-octave pipes!" and, shortly, I am happily alone. You too can hear Yma on YT. She trills from high soprano to basso. The music suggests tweeting birds or a volcanic eruption. Kushner, I read, thought his play might be a musical, initially, and it would have needed Yma. It still does.

I don't know if this play had its intended effects on me; because I was born in the 90s, HIV/AIDS has always been a reality permanently etched in the back of my mind. Because my political views lean heavily to the left, I find the recent trend of Reagan worshipping revolting. Because I live in the epicenter of Mormondom, I can poke holes in the "Mormons are the new Jews" motif that Kushner loves exploring so much. The sudden shifts Kushner is trying to articulate and rationalize have been a part ...more
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review is of the two plays by Tony Kushner housed under the title ANGELS IN AMERICA: A GAY FANTASIA ON NATIONAL THEMES -- "Millennium Approaches" and "Perestrokia -- which can be produced and mounted individually, or together for one rather long (seven-hour) afternoon and evening in the theater.

Although the two plays were workshopped in 1990 and played jointly on Broadway and the West End in 1992 and 1993 -- they are really about the Eighties. Set in 1985 and 1986, with an Epilog in 1990,
Emma Getz
"This disease will be the end of many of us, but not nearly all, and the dead will be commemorated and will struggle on with the living, and we are not going away. We won't die secret deaths anymore. The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come."

Angels in America is my favorite and absolutely the most beautiful play I have ever read for many, many reasons. First and foremost, it is a real look at a historical era and crisis so often erased in popular media. The inclusio
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: glbtq, plays
Everyone's life in this play is/becomes affected by AIDS. The time is 1985. It is a scary time with AZT brand new. As Prior Walter's fever culminates, his talks with Angels and some others from the next world intensify. The effect of AIDS does not care how strong a character may be in their earthly life. This play displays a variety of different personalities and how they handle AIDS as it crosses their path. A fast moving play with short scenes. Even in these short scenes, there may be two sequ ...more
Aug 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama, read-in-2010
I begin this review with a quote: "Things fall apart / the center cannot hold." A colleague pointed out the resonances of Yeats' poem 'The Second Coming' in Kushner's 'Angels,' and I had to agree with his fantastic observation. This is a drama set in Reaganite America that images a world seemingly coming to an implosive and horrifying end. God has literally abandoned us (evidently, during the great San Francisco earthquake), and the national and historical crises alluded to--the onset of the AID ...more
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love this play. It explores the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s, particularly its effect on the gay community. But you don’t have to be a gay man with AIDS living in 1985 to relate to it. This play reaches out on a very basic human level. It’s about dealing with loss, love, sickness, regret, hope, politics, betrayal, sex, religion, death, confusion, hate…it’s about facing yourself and trying to deal with what you find there.

Angels is hands down my favorite play. It’s writt
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
“what AIDS shows us is the limits of tolerance, that’s it’s not enough to be tolerated, because when the shit hits the fan you find out how much tolerance is worth. Nothing. And underneath all the tolerance is intense, passionate hatred.”
well that sure was. something
Dusty Myers
Sep 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Angels in America is seven hours long. You need to break the two parts up over the course of a weekend, probably. And it might be the first and it might be the only gay epic ever written. And this is why it's one of the most important books I've read. Luckily it's also one of the best.

Its project is a tough one: look at the rise of AIDS in the culture of Reagan-era New York City as experienced by three men who identify as gay, one Mormon who's oriented sexually toward other men, and Roy Cohn—who
Mar 27, 2010 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: hardcore intellectuals who enjoy movies like "Sinedoche New York"
Seeing that "Angels in America" is a Pulitzer prize winner, I think I should conclude I am just not smart enough to get it. I neither enjoyed this play nor understood it. I'll leave it at that.

Reading challenge: #12.
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-harder-2020
I’m still a believer that plays are made to be staged and seen, not printed and read. That being said, I found Angels in America immensely affecting, and I am glad I read it. Much more than a story of the AIDS epidemic, this is a story of humanity in crisis. It asks us big questions about who we are when faced with our own mortality, and the mortality of those we love, as well as what it means to feel like you need to be someone you are not.
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-white-square
Loved this! The Roy Cohn thing was fascinating.

But I'm a fan of the Aristotelian unities in my theatre ... so it wasn't perfect. Wouldn't it have worked with fewer scenes, longer scenes, more dialogue? In the notes, the playwright talks about how the Angel only works with good SFX ... can you say a play is working if it needs good SFX? And why can you write scenes that directors can remove?

Loved Belize. And Meryl is fantastic in the TV show. Really ... it's through her that Part 2 works.

Joe at t
I find it exceptionally challenging to write about this play. Partly because I've never read anything like it before (a "Gay Fantasia on National Themes") and partly because I feel like the play is dealing with so many themes at once in such a short space that it becomes overwhelming.

The most explicit theme is sexuality. There are two characters in the play who are struggling to deal with the fact that they are gay. One married (with a woman) Mormon man, and another ruthless lawyer who refuses
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“Unspeakable beauty. That’s something I would like to see.”

I think it's easy to see why this play had such a huge impact when it came out. It's written so beautifully and impactfully and the characters stay with you a long time. It's quickly become one of my favorite literary works ever.
Avery (Book Deviant)
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4star
See more of my reviews on my blog the Book Deviant

Because this is written as a screenplay, I wasn't really sure how I would like it. It sounded really interesting, and so I decided that if I liked it, I would check out the HBO performance of it just so I can see it. I struggled with the beginning, being unfamiliar with the simplicity that a screenplay can give. But after a while, I felt more connected with the characters, despite not being able to hear their thoughts.

Kushner was able to convey t
Harry McDonald
A re-read, still my very very favourite; reading this play for the first time over 6 years ago now genuinely changed my life. First time reading this edition cover-to-cover, the nerd in me still greatly enjoys spotting the differences.

you can find all my other writings about Angels in America here:
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt-themed, drama
I started reading the play but the dvd was due back at the library so I watched it. Then when I went back to reading, my mental images were completely taken over and I was reading what I had seen. I loved the dvd. But wish I could have experienced it unbiased by (excellent) actors and a filmed production.

The play is heartbreaking, but has humor as well. The religious aspects were fascinating to me, as one who grew up Mormon in Utah. And it is probably the best depiction of 1980s culture and AID
Jim Dooley
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I keep coming back to ANGELS IN AMERICA. I first saw it on tour after its Broadway opening. Originally intended to be presented on two consecutive nights, I saw the first part on a Sunday afternoon matinee, and the second part that Sunday evening. I was mesmerized.

Is there a play that has been tinkered with more than this one? Having seen three productions and the HBO movie, none of them were exactly the same. Scenes were dropped, lines were added, and Angel acrobatics came and went. It is almo
Paloma Meir
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love this play so much, I can't even talk about it. Words, words, so many beautiful words. I'm a Tony Kushner fan girl for life.
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, queer-lit
And I bless you: More Life.

Every time I try to put my feelings about this play into words, I fail to come up with anything remotely coherent. What an incredible play.
Leo Robertson
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As the author admits, the first play is succinct and well structured, the second starts to go all over the place, threatening to drown under its own weight. When everything ties up it works quite spectacularly, and I hadn't noticed how funny it is (easy to miss when you see this for the first time!)

But no, it's quite brilliant, and I would recommend the HBO version :)
Jay Shelat
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kushner manages to capture the tension, fear, and tragedy of the AIDS epidemic with nuance, intelligence, imagination, and magic. Angels in America is an astonishingly good read.
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
i think this is the most important piece of literature i’ll ever read. thank you tony kushner, this play means so much to me and to so many others. AND I BLESS YOU: MORE LIFE.
Sarah Tittle
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm not normally a reader of plays, so I was surprised when I sped through this work, which in this edition is actually 2 plays along with a new introduction and some very entertaining notes about staging. This was, I believe, the first play to tackle head-on the AIDS crisis in New York City in the 1980s. I was living in NYC then, and virtually everyone I knew was touched by the disease in some way. And although homosexuality was much less accepted in that era than it is now, this play is still ...more
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
Listening to Angels in America with the new Broadway revival's full cast was a moving experience this week. While more reader's theater than traditional audiobook, the performances featured here, especially Andrew Garfield's Tony-award-winning turn as Prior, left me shuddering.

I was shocked to find out that the play's complicated and problematic but definitely repulsive villain, Roy Cohn, was not only based on the lawyer who had a hand in executing Ethel Rosenberg, but he's also was one of Donal
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently read the outstanding new oral history about the creation of this play, and in that discovered Kushner had published a revised edition 5 years ago, incorporating the many changes he has made since its inception. As I hadn't revisited the play since teaching it at university, appropriately at the turn of the millennium, I thought it would be interesting to re-read it (as I SHOULD have done before tackling the history!).

I've always held to the accepted view of the play, that is, part on
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Tony Kushner is an award-winning American playwright most famous for his play Angels in America, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He is also co-author, along with Eric Roth, of the screenplay of the 2005 film Munich, which was directed by Steven Spielberg and earned Kushner (along with Roth) an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Other books in the series

Angels in America (2 books)
  • Millennium Approaches (Angels in America #1)
  • Perestroika (Angels in America #2)

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“Harper: In your experience of the world. How do people change?

Mormon Mother: Well it has something to do with God so it's not very nice.

God splits the skin with a jagged thumbnail from throat to belly and then plunges a huge filthy hand in, he grabs hold of your bloody tubes and they slip to evade his grasp but he squeezes hard, he insists, he pulls and pulls till all your innards are yanked out and the pain! We can't even talk about that. And then he stuffs them back, dirty, tangled and torn. It's up to you to do the stitching.

Harper: And then up you get. And walk around.

Mormon Mother: Just mangled guts pretending.

Harper: That's how people change.”
“I've lived through such terrible times and there are people who live through much worse. But you see them living anyway. When they're more spirit than body, more sores than skin, when they're burned and in agony, when flies lay eggs in the corners of the eyes of their children - they live. Death usually has to take life away. I don't know if that's just the animal. I don't know if it's not braver to die, but I recognize the habit; the addiction to being alive. So we live past hope. If I can find hope anywhere, that's it, that's the best I can do. It's so much not enough. It's so inadequate. But still bless me anyway. I want more life.” 132 likes
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