Friday, May 19, 2017

10 thoughts on...Angles in America.

 
1. Tony Kushner's play
He's ambitious, sprawling and imperfect play has more moments of esquisatness that it will forever be treasured as one of the most special experiences I have had in the theatre (and I spend enough time in them!). A privilege to watch.

2. The company
As great as the writing is, it is the cast that are the most necessary element to bring this to life - and of course they do. I'd argue that James McArdle as Louis was miscast and is the weakest link, but he's also given my least favourite character so perhaps that's unfair. Nathan Lane and Denise Gough were the standout performances for me, the latter has a rare ability to truly inhabit a character. It's unnerving to watch and can't wait to watch her career progress.

3. Prior Walter and Andrew Garfield
Although Nathan Lane and Denise Gough gave the most impressive performances, my heart jumps to Andrew Garfield's Prior. He is my favourite character and, although his campness doesn't always feel genuine, he gives him a charismatic soul that took hold whenever he was on stage. My eyes were definitely not dry at the end.

4. Harper's final monologue
Although she doesn't feature in the very final scene, the last words from Harper are perhaps the most powerful in the play: 'In this world there's a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we've left behind, and dreaming ahead.'

5. The lighting
Lighting Design is a craft that I have recently began to notice much more in theatre and this (along with the Almeida Theatre's The Treatment and The Old Vic's Woyzeck) deserve celebration as they help bring these vivid worlds to life. 

6. 7/8 hours never went by so quickly
Perhaps this is too flippant a remark, but there was just one moment (where the Angel appears to Prior in the first third of Part 2) where my mind wandered. That's some achievement!

7. The Angel
There's always something...my main grumble about this production is the Angel itself. Puppetry is an exciting element to many theatre productions that bring it to life in a magical way. Unfortunately Marianne Elliott relies on it too often and, as here, it seems to detract rather complement the story she is staging. It's too fussy.

8. The set
The opposite is true of the site, which feels understated. At times this works beautifully as the focus is the text and characters but too often it feels a bit cheap, especially when compared to other National Theatre productions. And I'm not too sure what the structure looming over the stage is.

9. Go see it
I wish everyone could go see it and hope the NT Live broadcasts bring it to as wide an audience as possible. 

10. I feel lucky
You know that you truly love a piece of work when you genuinely feel lucky to have spent time watching it, especially with a group of people. I've felt that rarely but definitely did during this. 

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