Angels in America produced by Forum Theatre

What play is 2 parts, almost 7 hours long, has 2 counts of male nudity and 1 count of an angel making out with a woman? Tony Kushner's Angels in America, of course! Fledgling company Forum Theatre takes on both parts of this masterpiece, which is unusual. Most companies will stick with Millennium Approaches, since it's less complicated than Perestroika. Not this intrepid little company though. They do both parts in repertory with incredible success.

I attended the first part, Millennium Approaches, one rainy Thursday evening, ready for anything. It began with a chair, a coffin and a rabbi (Jennifer Mendenhall). The rabbi is performing the funeral of Louis Ironson's (Alexander Strain) aunt. Louis attends with his lover, Prior Walter (played to absolute perfection by Karl Miller). It is here that Prior reveals he has AIDS, and we see the first signs of Louis' trouble with dealing with this fact. Then we meet Harper and Joe Pitt (Casie Platt and Daniel Eichner), a married Mormon couple. Harper is addicted to Valium and spends all of her time in the apartment. Joe works as a clerk at a courthouse, which is where he first encounters Louis. The two are in a bathroom at work, where Louis is crying his eyes out because he has left Prior. The sickness was too much for him to deal with after Prior has to be taken to the hospital late one night. Their mutual friend Belize (Ro Boddie) visits Prior in the hospital. Roy Cohn (Jim Jorgensen), a powerful New York lawyer and Joe's boss, is also in the hospital, suffering from AIDS. The rest of the show follows these 7 people as their lives intertwine in and out of each other. Three and a half hours flew by as I was engrossed by the trials and tribulations of these incredibly vivid characters. The only set piece was a huge cloth stretched across the upstage of the theatre. Everything else was pushed, carried, or pulled onstage. It made sense in a couple of ways - first off, there were so many different places that action happened, it would have been insane to have a more intricate set. Secondly, it emphasized the script even more, since the audience wasn't paying attention to the lovely set dressing; instead, we were paying attention to the words. Most of these actors were present every single moment they were onstage, even if they weren't doing anything. The only member of the cast I honestly couldn't stand was Jorgenson. He overacted so badly that I couldn't believe a word he said, and I didn't feel bad for him for a second. I dreaded having to watch him. Otherwise, it was a dream ensemble. Jeremy Skidmore should be incredibly proud of being able to say he directed this excellent piece of theatre.

The next Thursday, I made the trek back to Round House Theatre Silver Spring for Perestroika. This part is a little trickier. There are angels and trips to heaven and orgasms on stage. Nanna Ingvarsson was lovely as the angel who tells Prior that he is, in fact, a prophet. I loved the way her angel-ness was portrayed - she entered on a ladder, pushed by Jorgensen, she wore wings made of what looked to be heavy plastic, and there was a nice reverb every time she spoke. The rest of the ensemble was in attendance as well, and they had every bit as much energy as they did for the first part. They returned to their characters with ease, and there was no trouble with continuity. I will admit this part of Kushner's saga is a little more rooted in theocracy, but it has a lot in it that will make you think. Michael Dove did an extraordinary job of taking what Skidmore began and following through.

This production is a theatre-goers dream. A brilliant ensemble, a landmark show, and a beautiful stage to watch for 7 hours. If you can see this show, don't hesitate.

Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika
Round House Theatre Silver Spring
925 Wayne Avenue
Through November 28


Anonymous said…
Round House Theatre Silver Spring is actually located at 8641 Colesville Road.

The Round House Theatre Education Center is located at 925 Wayne Avenue.

Google lies sometimes. :(

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