Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Reader's Diary #975- Tony Kushner: Angels in America (Part One, Millennium Approaches)
One of my issues was that it was only the first part. This wasn't entirely a beef with the writing, I was just annoyed that I could only find an e-copy of the first part. Why not also publish the second part Perestroika in the electronic format? However, I decided to read Millennium Approaches anyway, since from what I could tell the first part should be able to stand on its own. In fact, Millennium Approaches was first performed in 1990 and the 2nd part didn't come until 2 years later. However, when I first read it it did feel dropped at the end, like I was missing the 2nd half. I had so many questions and concerns. It couldn't hold up on its own at all!
Or could it? I admit it: when it came to Angels in America I was a lazy, unfocused reader. In my defense, I was reading it while in New York. At the end of very long, very filled days exploring Manhattan, when everyone else was asleep, I'd read Kushner's play. I was falling asleep myself much of the time, thinking ahead to what tomorrow would hold, bitter that I'd not been able to get Perestroika, and not overly enthusiastic for Millennium Approaches (I'd noted on the plane that Kushner had written the screenplay for Lincoln, which I'd found boring). In other words, I wasn't in a good head space to be reading the play.
Apparently I got some things mixed up. In fact, I even confused two characters, thinking one had AIDS when it was really another and this mix-up changed the plot quite a bit, not to mention destroying some of my earlier impressions on certain characters. Thankfully, after reading over online summaries again and again, the play now makes sense to me. I even like characters again. Granted some of my confusion would have been avoided had I seen the play performed in public, but that wasn't the case.
I'm still not sure the play was perfect. Sure there are some great themes explored (the role of God and society in shaping our fate, the resistance of the individual, etc) I still think the play is a bit busy. I applaud anyone who experiments, but there seemed to be a bit too much happening to fully reflect on the meaning. In my distracted state, I was doomed. Still, now that I've wrapped my head around it, and thinking back to the parts that did manage to pull me in, I'd definitely read Perestroika. Even if I no longer feel that I need to. (Now if I could just find an e-version.)