Stripped of spectacle, “Perestroika” wrestles with divine themes

“F*** you. I’m a prophet.”

[This review covers part 2 of THEATREdART’s “Angels in America.”
Click here to read about part 1, “Millennium Approaches.”]

Prior, a young man devastated by AIDS, must suddenly reckon with the arrival of Angel(s) in his apartment. This supernatural essence, four yet one, gives him a holy book, an uncontrollable erection and a prophecy for mankind.

Rehearsal photo; © Dana Kjeldsen

Thus begins “Angels in America: Perestroika,” part 2 of Tony Kushner’s epic saga of love, identity and apocalypse in 1980s New York.

Matt Radcliffe embarks on an emotional decathlon, as Prior goes from crippling self-pity to righteous fury, armed with a kiss-off instead of a sword. Even as his body crumples beneath him, the mission—or martyrdom—galvanizes his spirit. Radcliffe seizes every scene like it may be his last.

Desiree Myers wins the crowd as worldly-wise nurse Belize. The voice of reason (and endless humor) among angels, ghosts and mannequins come to life, Myers works doubly hard to shake off audience expectations and make the role her own.

Mark E. Cannon continues the intensity he brought to Roy Cohn. However, the performance takes on new weight as we see the power broker confined to a hospital bed. He writhes like a worm, futilely trying to intimidate others so he can keep his grip over the city.

As Harper, Prior, Louis and Joe face their demons—and accost their angels—one theme rings true: Life is worth pursuing, even if the chase may kill you.

Additional Notes:
This production limits the special effects for the Angel(s). Without the distraction of backstage tricks, the initial visitation scene grows slightly tedious.

On the flipside, the living diorama is expertly choreographed. Dana Kjeldsen balances the humor and hurt of “Joe the dummy,” while Beth Clements Mosley sears the soul with a single monologue.

Super-fans can watch “Millennium Approaches” and “Perestroika” on the same night December 10, 17 or 23. Bear in mind, the complete show runs seven hours, not including a dinner break. Reserve tickets now.

“Angels in America: Perestroika” contains sexual content, nudity, profanity and religious imagery.

Presented by THEATREdART
December 9, 10, 16, 17 and 23, 2017

The Trestle Building
219 W Colorado Ave

Admission: Pay what you can (suggested $15)
Running Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes

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