To mark the theatrical event of this season which Angels in America by Tony Kushner has clearly become I already had the preconception that I was going to be blown away and I was of course as were the other members of the press that saw this magnificent theatrical soap opera box set recently. Its all here, lack of fidelity, sexual denial and confusion , promiscuity ,lust , drug dependency , gothic hospital horror , delusional behaviour and finally revenge. Total edge of the seat stuff. At close on 8 hours running time with suitable breaks for bodily functions I was swept away on a cloud of emotion that had me tingling and admiring the dazzling writing of Kushner.
So this is the story of a group of Americans affected by the Aids virus Ronald Reagans America and the power of the Mormon Church. This combination makes for a right royal riveting experience that will stay with you for a longtime if not forever as the human brain can store things away and go back to them, I’m know I will and experience the fabulous feeling when you know your have witnessed a masterpiece.
The acting talent is off the richter scale with Nathan Lane, going from puppy dog to full on Wolf , his command of the role is breathtaking and the fact that he is playing the only ‘real’ character in the play , he becomes Roy Cohn, self loathing homophobic homosexual who insists that on his notes it reads Liver Cancer and not that he has the Aids Virus. His role requests that he uses the ‘F’ word repeatedly and everytime he utters that word there is force with his uttering that is delectable. Russell Tovey as Joe who finally comes to term with his own sexuality as the expense of his marriage is extremely watchable as is Denise Gough who plays his valium addicted wife. The intensity of the scenes between them garnered very audible gasps. James McArdle as manipulative office worker Louis is also at the top of his game.
The macabreness of the Angel played by Amanda Lawrence that also took six stage crew to operate the huge wings is simply spectacular. Special mention has to go to Nathan Stewart -Jarrett as Belize who various scenes with all the characters add a comedy element to the proceedings , Beautiful and Brilliant a gifted actor. However, its the stunning Andrew Garfield as Prior Walter that has you cheering, This is a tour de force performance that come Awards season should him get a suitable gong.His grasp on the pivotal role is mesmerising, utterly bewitching and totally memorable and vivid.
This production truly has its own guardian angel looking down or even siting on the shoulder of Director Marianne Elliott who has created a visually interpretation of Kushner seminal play.
5 stars Runs to the 19th August National Theatre ( Lyttelton) SE1 box office 020 7452 3000 national theatre.org.uk