Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches (Angels in America)

by Tony Kushner

Paperback, 1993



Call number




Theatre Communications Group (1993), Paperback


Pulitzer Prize-winner for Drama, 1993. The first part of Tony Kushner's epic drama of America in the 1980s. "A vast, miraculous play.... provocative, witty and deeply upsetting.... a searching and radical rethinking of American political drama."--Frank Rich, The New York Times #65533;"Daring and dazzling! The most ambitious American play of our time."--Jack Kroll, Newsweek

User reviews

LibraryThing member darwin.8u
I loved Angels in America. There is a lot of modern American drama that I believe just doesn't hold up as literature. Kushner, however, belongs in the same pantheon of modern American greats as Pinter and Mamet.
LibraryThing member 391
My God, this is a brilliant play. It's relentless, and I felt like I was holding my breath the entire time I read it. "A gay fantasia on national themes," definitely.
LibraryThing member JosephJ
Interesting but very involved play. Much better miniseries with some seriously sick acting on the part of Meryl Streep and Al Pacino.
LibraryThing member corinneblackmer
A play that sets out not merely to ameliorate but to eradicate anti-gay sentiment, Angels in America opens as Louis's Jewish grandmother, who he has refused to visit, has her funeral, presided over by the remarkable Rabbi Issidor Chemelwitz, who takes about her not so much as an individual person
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but as "a kind of person" who make the "great voyage" from Europe to America that is no longer possible in our world. Louis discovers that his lover, Prior Walter, has AIDS and just as Walter fears Louis leaves him because death does not fit into his vision of the world or "how it should be." These views receive a strong rebuke from Louis's friend, Belize, the African American nurse who is one of the many human angels in this play. In the meantime, Louis begins to have sex with a Mormon lawyer named Joe, while Joe is invited to take a powerful position in Washington DC by Roy Cohn. Roy Cohn is facing disbarment proceedings for several reasons -- he stole money from a client -- and he looks to Joe, who works in the Justice Department in NYC, because "he needs eyes in Justice," by which he means someone who will manipulate matters so as to make the disbarment attorneys frightened of the repercussions of disbarring Roy. Joe refuses to go to Washington, DC, largely because his agoraphobic, valium-addicted wife does not wish to go there. In a dream, Harper encounters Prior, who informs her that her husband is gay, while she tells Prior he has a part of him deep inside that is free from illness. Belize encounters Joe in the hospital, and tells Louis that his current boyfriend is the "butt boy" for Roy Cohn, which provokes a violent breakup between the two men. Harper also confronts Joe about his gay identity, and decides to end the marriage with him, temporarily engaging in wish fulfillment fantasy with a man named Mr. Lies, who lets her go to Antarctica so that she can see the ozone layer (that is disappearing). As the first part of Angels in America arrives, Louis, who has already seen his ancestors, prepares for the advent of the angel, who comes with the "broom of truth" to sweep away lies.
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LibraryThing member mamzel
In the first part of Angels in America, we meet the characters and learn their complicated relationships. The play takes place at the end of 1985 when information of HIV and AIDS was just emerging and there was still a lot of fear and misunderstanding about it. Our characters represent homosexuals
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in different circumstances. Joe is Mormon, married, and meets other gay men anonymously in Central Park. Louis is in a committed relationship with Prior. When the play opens, Prior is exhibiting signs of AIDS. Roy McCohn (based on a true person) is in absolute denial of his sexuality (he admits to having sex with men but denies he is gay - admits he has cancer but won't accept it's really AIDS). We also meet a down-to-Earth transvestite nurse named Belize who puts up with Roy's abuse to make him face the truth. Joe's wife, Harper, can't understand why he goes out every night but is afraid to ask and get an answer. She takes Valium and hallucinates.

We see the problems they face. Louis doesn't visit Prior in the hospital. Harper lashes back at Joe and tells him she is pregnant. Support systems fail and everyone is miserable.

At the end of Part 1 the Angel appears and greets Prior as a Prophet.

Good drama should make people uncomfortable and question things and these plays do just that.
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Lambda Literary Award (Winner — Drama — 1993)
Pulitzer Prize (Winner — Drama — 1993)
Tony Award (Winner — Play — 1993)
Drama Desk Award (Winner — 1992-1993)


Original publication date


Physical description

136 p.; 8.4 inches


1559360615 / 9781559360616

Local notes

Excellent play; dripping with symbolism.
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