The play centers around two couples. Joe and Harper are a married Mormon couple that is struggling: Joe because he's gay but, like a good Mormon, has learned to "Turn it Off," and Hannah because of her addiction to pills in attempt to cope with that unspoken fact. As a result, she's clingy, terrified, and suffers from hallucinations. Joe has been offered a job in DC but doesn't want to take it because of how it will affect Harper. Joe's co-worker, Louis, is the first to confront Joe with the fact that he's gay. Louis himself is having a hard time because his partner, Prior, has AIDS and is in declining health (Louis is the infuriating character I referred to earlier). He turns his partner's illness into his problem; Prior is lying on the floor in pain, and Louis cries, why is this happening to me! He ends up leaving Prior, unable to handle his illness. It's easy to label Louis as a jerk because of this, but who really knows how they'd react to that situation unless they're in it? We'd all like to think we'd stand by someone we loved going through a terminal illness, but Louis is the embodiment of that tiny part of us that questions if we'd have what it takes. But Prior isn't left totally alone, he has his fiercely supportive friend, the drag queen/nurse Belize. And he has his hallucinations - of his ancestors who also died young, and an angel who comes to visit him in his sickbed. This is where the play ends, with much more to be explored.
|Prior (James N. Stone) and Harper (Megan Dowd),|
who only meet in a dream
Angels in America: Millennium Approaches continues through August 4 at the Lowry Lab in downtown St. Paul, and will then move across town to In the Heart of the Beast for a few weeks in late August. Definitely worth checking out to see this American classic. But it's not a short play - with three acts, two intermissions, and a total running time of 3+ hours, you'll want to go in fully rested and/or get some caffeine (advice that I unfortunately did not take). And with any luck, we'll have a chance to see Part 2 sometime in the not too distant future. (Goldstar half price tickets available for the Lowry and In the Heart of the Beast).