Journal entry 2009.02.27.
This is a bit late, but I'm finally getting around to writing about it; I went to see Angels in America
last Saturday at the Parramatta Riverside Theatre. Part 1, that is. I've never seen the play before but I've wanted to for years.
It was amazing. The best acting I've seen in a long time.. Ray Chong Nee, who played Belize, was absolutely brilliant and he looks better walking in heels than I do (but then again, I don't walk well in heels, so that's not exactly hard), and Laurence Coy, who played Roy Cohn was perfect: he had the accent perfect, the persona, and he was completely larger than life on stage. Louis was great, subtle but completely believable, and Prior Walter was camp as anything... oh, all
of the actors were amazing! There was not a single weak moment when I didn't believe what I was watching or got knocked out of the story. And all the actors had such wonderful comedic timing. They really made the most of the script.
It was one of those plays where you forget the passage of time. I went in with hunger pains because I'd forgotten to eat and thought "this is going to be annoying all the way through" but I forgot all about it watching the stage. It was just that enthralling.
And very creative production. They used a screen across half the stage so they could broadcast images onto it, usually to set the scene or enhance the atmosphere, for example, autumn leaves when a scene took place in a park, or images from the Bayeaux Tapestry the first time Medieval-Prior showed up. But the actors were also visible behind the screen when necessary so it added another layer (literally) to the visuals. It was done best in the scene where Prior Walter sees a holy book show up in front of him at the hospital; the whole scene was played out behind the screen with a flaming book being broadcast onto the screen, so it looked like the book really was floating infront of the actors. Very creative production.
And Mapplethorpe art was used in the set design, using bits and pieces and turning them into a silver tree that stretched across the stage, holding up the screen, with hollows for actors to sit on, with sink and mirror set into the side for when a scene was set in a bathroom. So simple, incredibly beautiful though. It was just... perfect.
I can't rave about it enough. It was so worth it, in fact I would pay twice that amount of money to see it again.
And of course the play itself is wonderful: whimsical and bittersweet and funny. For a theatre piece to be good it needs strong writing and strong acting. It doesn't need
creative effects or set design. I've seen King Lear
performed on an empty stage with the actors wearing nothing but white trousers and shirts - a blank canvas, so to speak - and it was one of the best performances I've seen. As long as a play has strong writing and strong acting, everything else is just a bonus.
This had both in spades.
So, so impressed.
[Edit: 2009.02.28 - added picture
Also, because someone mentioned it, the reason I didn't go into details about the storyline is because the storyline is really hard to pin down. It's basically about seven characters living in the AIDS era during the '80s, and how their lives intersect because of this disease. It's a play about life and death and taking charge of your own life to find ways of living, and not just simply surviving.]