Essays on Kushner's Angels


154 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 0-921368-57-7
DDC 812'.54




Edited by Per Brask
Reviewed by Ian C. Nelson

Ian C. Nelson is assistant director of libraries at the University of
Saskatchewan, and président de la Troupe du Jour, Regina Summer Stage.


In the two parts of Angels in America, Tony Kushner uses epic and
Brechtian theatre techniques to pit personal and official politics
against our century’s most horrendous plague. Assembling an anthology
of reactions to this controversial play is like shooting at a moving
target, for productions of Angels—and responses to it—are still very
much in progress.

This volume is seriously blurred by an overinclusiveness that is
perhaps driven by Susan Sontag’s illness/AIDS metaphor pieces. Instead
of concentrating on the dramatic text or on the effectiveness of the
plays’s theatrical conventions, some of the essays go beyond the
author’s intentions and political agenda to explore a comparison of
acting styles and scenic touches (difficult for the reader who has not
seen all of the multinational productions), American politics in
opposition to universal relevance, and audience appeal (or lack of it)
in established or experimental theatre settings. If the anthology’s
intention was to give a snapshot of the varied reactions, perhaps a
shorter exposure to each might have made for a clearer picture. The
contributors’ credentials are impeccable, but the pieces are
dauntingly challenging in their idiosyncratic approaches.

The highlights of the volume are two interviews with Kushner himself
and the surprising extended-prose-poem response by Manitoba poet Patrick
Friesen. There will probably be renewed interest in this book if Robert
Altman’s promised film version comes about.


“Essays on Kushner's Angels,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,