Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Theatre 2017: Review Twenty-three and Twenty-Four - Angels in America

Angels in America, The Lyttleton Theatre, The National Theatre, London. July 2017.

(Millennium Approaches/Perestroika)

I'll confess that I was little nervous as the lights went down for this - Rebecca and I were seeing both plays in one day which added up to just shy of 8 hours theatre, what if it wasn't very good?

Millennium Approaches was split into three parts, each about an hour long and as the first interval started I was starting to be drawn in but I wasn't 100% convinced. This is a complex play with multiple story lines and at this point I just wanted to spend a little more time with each set so I could get to know them. By the second interval I was hooked and had fallen under the play's spell completely and I loved the switching between view points.

It is hard to explain this play, in simplistic terms it is the story of a group of people, living in New York at the height of the AIDS epidemic but at the same time it is so much more - and I think that everyone brings (and takes) something different from each scene as various lines speak to them.

After a break of a couple of hours we were back in our seats for the second play, Perestroika and this was a little longer but again I quickly sank into the story telling and was desperate to find out how the lives of the characters were going to intersect and then play out. Right up until the very last moments of the play could we work out how the story was going to end and that is praise not criticism!

This was a total ensemble piece, with not a weak link in the cast. It took you through every emotion going but throughout the tension was cut through with so much humour - and not just the gallows humour of the dying. At times it was hard to work out what was real, what was dream and what was hallucination but that didn't matter at all because it was the overall effect that was important.

Perhaps my only criticism is that there were no real highs/lows in the storytelling - you remained keyed up throughout with no release, but, when you think about it life is actually like that.

I think we made the right choice in seeing the two plays in one long session. A gap between might have been kinder on our backs and bottoms but I think the full immersion made me fall in love with this play and the characters.

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