Reviews: Angels In America

Better as a Book...

Honestly, this transferred poorly to the screen.

As a book, it's excellent, even if the mythology references and dialogue is more than a bit over the top.

The stage play did excellent justice to the book, if only because it inherently involves the audience in the character's actions and surroundings. Theater is indeed the proper medium for this work.

But the TV series....

It drags utterly. And all the mythological aspects come across as ridiculous. The lack of the audience also changes how we perceive the dialogue, where goes from inclusive in the theater, to preachy/overblown and hackneyed when that audience is removed.

I can honestly say: read the book, then see it in a theatrical production, even if you have the shorter version which roughly corresponds to the miniseries. It's simply not the same as a mini-series; in fact, it comes off as ludicrous rather than profound.

Sometimes, things belong in a specific medium. This is one of them.

Gonna get killed for this review...

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.