1985, the year in which the 3 parts of Millennium Approaches, Part 1 of Angels in America is set, everyone is having fears and anxieties about the year 2000 like everyone is perched on the edge of a cliff waiting to fall off. Just as in the ‘90’s when Tony Kushner’s masterpiece was first staged, now at the Neil Simon Theater in a luminous production under the direction of Marianne Elliott, the characters experience dreamlike visions: Prior Walter hallucinates ancestors of the same name. He has mysterious lesions, as does Roy Cohn, the infamous McCarthy era lawyer visited by the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg. Harper Pitt on a Valium low suffers visions of falling into a black hole. Her husband Joe prowls the parks in search of what? Along the way, the talk is of earth, Reagan, and race. The end of the world is coming. You know because the great book rises from the stage’s floor and bursts into flames. Yes, paranoia plagued us in 1985, and in 1993, when Angles was staged in New York, only now we know more about how our nightmares turn out. I am not yet over the delicious discomfort of this spectacle that is Angels in America.
Could playwright Tony Kushner have known that by 2018 we’d be more obsessed with the Russians than ever? And how could our millennial obsessions be so funny? Stay tuned.