Angels in America: televised versus staged

Daniel Mendelsohn reviews the Angels in America TV-film, contrasting it with the play, in the current New York Review of Books:

the real reason why Nichols’s Angels feels so different from the Broadway version has less to do with the difference between stage and screen than with the difference between 1993 and 2003. The AIDS crisis is certainly far from over, but no one can deny that it’s a much different kind of crisis now from the kind it was ten years ago. (A friend remarked to me recently that if Kushner were writing his play today, he’d have to call it Angels in Africa.)….

Because of [] this, you experience Angels in an entirely different way today than you did ten years ago. Not least of the advantages afforded by this shift is that much of what seemed crucial about the play then seems artificial or even dated now…. But a re-viewing of Angels now also, and somewhat frustratingly, reveals—partly because of a new cultural setting, and partly because of decisions on Nichols’s and Kushner’s part (emphases, cuts, new material)—the bones of a much grander and more important work than the one that the trumpets of the press corps and Sunday cultural supplements have been heralding.


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