Two-time Putlizer Prize and Tony Award-winning Angels in America explores the intersection of religious, political, racial, and sexual identities over the backdrop of the AIDS epidemic in New York City in the 1980s. Part One focuses on a gay couple (Prior Walter and Louis Ironson) and a straight couple (Joe and Harper Pitt) in Manhattan, then expanding into intertwining narratives between these characters and real historic conservative political/legal figure (Roy Cohn); a nurse and former drag queen (Belize); Joe’s conservative, bigoted mother (Hannah Pitt); and multiple supernatural characters (The Messenger) who share the messages and herald the arrival of The Angel.
In Part Two, Prior battles his worsening AIDS symptoms while struggling to cope with the bizarre visions he’s been having of an Angel telling him he’s a prophet who must convince mankind to “stop moving.” Belize, his best friend, as a nurse who treats mostly AIDS patients, worries that Prior's “visions” are a sign his disease has crossed into his brain, causing the delusions and dementia they have observed in many of their patients, including their newest addition: the infamous, closeted, bigoted McCarthyist lawyer, Roy Cohn. Cohn finds himself slipping away from reality as he scornfully rambles away at the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg, the Soviet spy he colluded to have executed decades ago. Meanwhile, Louis, having abandoned Prior, moves in with Joe, who, himself, has just left his wife Harper, leaving her to make sense of her Valium-induced hallucinations with the help of his stern, estranged mother, Hannah. Over the course of the play, the characters struggle to claw their way through their new lives and close the rifts torn in them by the events of Part One. New connections are made, others are broken, lessons are learned, demons confronted, sins forgiven, prophecies… fulfilled?
Perestroika deals with issues of homophobia, sexism, racism, classism, religion, sex, disease, death, life, progress, patriotism, politics, and history—all in a distinctively American context. It’s a beautiful meditation on the dilemma we must all face in our rapidly changing modern world: that between the temptation to "stop moving" and the painful progress the world and humanity ultimately demand.
This production is possible through a special licensing agreement with Broadway Play Publishing, to whom we are extremely grateful.