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Reviews Comments: Gonna get killed for this review... Angels In America film/book review by astrakhan

I might be the only person who seriously dislikes Angels In America. It's not because of the themes or content. I understand its place in history and its importance in the gay community.

However, I also think it's the most pretentious piece of theater ever created. Every line of dialogue is smug and self-righteous, as if Tony Kushner is bragging "Look! Look at my important thing!" I found it difficult to get past the "Prior and Harper dream" sequence, wherein each tries to out-quip each other; it just falls flat. Even the title—"A Gay Fantasia On National Themes"—wants to force the viewer to turn it into a big deal. It's the only play that could make me facepalm when an angel bursts through the ceiling. I should be cheering or in awe; instead I just said "Are you fucking kidding me?"

Personally, I think "Love! Valour! Compassion!" and even "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" are better "Gay Fantasias". At least they don't make you hate the characters.


  • gasolinemonk
  • 21st Sep 15
point taken, but i've always gotten the impression that the pretention, the witty banter and quips, and the over-the-top-ness of the whole affair were all conscious and intentional. for most of our history, witty quips and ridiculous drama were all that we had; our only line of defense. i like that they provide the foundation of the story.

L!V!C! and Hedwig are both, despite appearing quite over the top, actually very subtle character studies. and they both are intended to portray realistic characters at realistic moments of their lives (and yes, i think Hedwig and her life are realistic, despite all the glitter). Angels in America isn't meant to be subtle or realistic. it's meant to be the gay version of the Iliad - waaaayyyy over the top, way ridiculous, way too many characters, reaching for extremely broad, overarching themes: life, death, movement and change, social evolution.

i always loved all the religious motifs as well. they make the play seem like a prophetic, mystical, apocalyptic vision seen through the eyes of an 80s drag queen; someone who, on the one hand, can't take any of it seriously and must compulsively mock every fantastic thing that happens, and yet, on the other hand, can't NOT take any of it seriously, because it *is* serious. it seems a lot like how someone like Prior would have actually dealt with his AIDS. he would want to joke about it and mock it, but at the same time... he knew it was killing him.

personally, i think that if you didn't like it, then the problem is that you're expecting it to be something it's not. it's not L!V!C! or Hedwig. it's Angels in America.

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