BWW Review: A Stunning ANGELS IN AMERICA at Wilma Theater
Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches by Tony Kushner is a powerhouse theatrical event that garnered numerous prestigious awards including a Drama Desk award for Best Play, a Tony® Award for Best Play and the Pultizer® Prize for Drama. This epic work tackles a melting pot of social issues through the intertwined lives of several New Yorkers in 1985. Roy Cohn, a powerful and unscrupulous lawyer refuses to accept his AIDS diagnosis. Joe, Cohn’s protégé, is a Republican Mormon who rigidly forces himself to stay virtuous in world clouded with issues, not the least of which is that his wife, Harper, has emotional problems and a Valium addiction. Finally, Prior, a witty gay man has been diagnosed with AIDS and starts to hear messages from beyond, while his Jewish partner, Louis, struggles and obsesses with his inability to cope with life’s challenges.
With a vivid direction provided by Blanka Zizka, the cast seamlessly takes us a moving journey through love, hate, death, faith, courage and risk. The production features the impeccable portrayal of Prior by Aubrey Deeker, the gripping characterization of Roy by Stephen Novelli and the multi-faceted characters of Kate Czajkowski (Harper and others).
Angels in America features a strikingly stark-white set with multi-purpose chairs, tables and benches. A second level spans the back of the stage, serving as a clever city backdrop and connecting to the main level by a spiral staircase and a fun fireman’s pole. The lighting design makes brilliant and intriguingly symbolic use of light versus shadow. At the end, all the technical elements play together for an impressive conclusion.
The Wilma Theater’s Angels in America is a not-to-be-missed showing of one of most controversial and important works of our time and is definitely the best theatre I’ve seen in Philadelphia all year. This play and this stunning production will reinvigorate your love of theatre and challenge you to experience more and do better.
Photo Credit: Alexander Iziliaev