Review #149 // Angels in America – Tony Kushner

Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes

Lou’s boyfriend, Prior, is told that he has AIDS. Joe, married Harper, struggles with his sexuality all the while his wife is addicted to Valium and her agoraphobia. Roy, a brutal and selfish lawyer, is told he also has AIDS, but refuses to back down when his career is threatened.

Why this book?: It was assigned reading for my Gay & Lesbian Literature class.

Because this is written as a screenplay, I wasn’t really sure how I would like it. It sounded really interesting, and so I decided that if I liked it, I would check out the HBO performance of it just so I can see it. I struggled with the beginning, being unfamiliar with the simplicity that a screenplay can give. But after a while, I felt more connected with the characters, despite not being able to hear their thoughts.

Kushner was able to convey thoughtful and diverse characters with just how they spoke and how they interacted with others. We got to know each separate character not by their thoughts on events, but on how they reacted to them (Lou reacting to Prior’s illness, Joe reacting to Harper’s addiction) and I found that very telling.

I thought Prior’s side of the story was very . . . weird? I really didn’t understand the point to the Angels, nor Prior’s inclusion. It just seemed like it was weird for the sake of being weird, to draw attention rather than make sense. While I really loved the story and the overall message of it, I felt like it could have been conveyed in a better way. That didn’t stop me from loving the majority of the characters (but fuck Roy) and loving how they all did their part in the story.

Final Rating: ★★★★☆


I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked this play, so as I write this review I’m in the middle of watching the HBO performance of it (which I highly recommend!) While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the fantastical portions of this play, I really enjoyed everything else.

I do have to say that I’m not the biggest fan of the agoraphobic rep. While I am not agoraphobic myself, I couldn’t help but be a little put off from how Harper was showed to be “cr*zy” and delusional.

Would I Recommend?

Yes! Although it deals with very heavy topics, I felt that there was a good balance between the heavy details and the scenes when Prior adds in a little humor.

Trigger warning for d*ke slur, f*ggot slur, homophobia, discussion of HIV/AIDS, abandonment, addiction, homophobic parents, sexism, ableism, cheating, anti-Semitism, racism, and sex. Comment if you of any that I missed!

Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes

Additional Information:

Published: May 1st, 1993

Publisher: Theater Communications Group

Page Count: 333

Genre: Plays/Drama/Fiction

Synopsis: via Goodreads

This new edition of Tony Kushner’s masterpiece is published with the author’s recent changes and a new introduction in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of its original production. One of the most honored American plays in history, Angels in America was awarded two Tony Awards for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was made into an Emmy Award-winning HBO film directed by Mike Nichols. This two-part epic, subtitled “A Gay Fantasia on National Themes,” has received hundreds of performances worldwide in more than twenty-six languages.

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