Tony Kushner: Angels in America, National Theatre, London (Director: Marianne Elliott)
By Sascha Krieger
„A gay fantasia on national themes“: the subtitle of Tony Kushner’s two-part take on an America at a watershed moment of history – between AIDS epidemic and end of the Cold War – hints at the scope of what is arguably one of the most significant plays of the 1990s. Opening in 1993 and 1994, respectively, the wounds are still visible, the pain still fresh. The death of certainties, the dread of an approaching apocalypse – the threat of a nuclear war was still real in 1985 when the play takes place while the environmental threats such as the vanishing ozone layer started getting mass attention – found expression in Kushner’s panorama of lost people questioning their identities, drifting along in the search for meaning, lashing out against the loss of the old world order. Built around a young man battling with AIDS, the loosely and sometimes bizarrely connected personnel are like explorers in a hostile and unknown universe who have to find their way mostly without help while longing for the closeness and warmth and support they all seem to have lost. With the arrival of the supernatural, an Angelic sphere that’s lost its God, the view widens to the universal. Humankind has to find their own way, no God will help, the angels being as lost as those they mean to protect.