If you hadn’t seen Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Angels
in America since its Broadway run in 1993 and 1994, and if you
were waiting for the HBO-produced cinematic version to hit a screen
larger than the one in your own home, then the recent two-night
screening at the Museum of Modern Art of Mike Nichols’ award-winning
production of Kushner’s magnum opus was, quite possibly, your own
version of a dream long-deferred come true. First of all, the
setting: MOMA’s film theatres, sanctum sanctorum for cinephiles—and
a movie-going audience far more respectful than most in New York.
And then the film itself—the most watched cable television event of
2003-4, winner of five Golden Globe and eleven Emmy awards—with its
star-studded cast: Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson,
Mary-Louise Parker, Patrick Wilson, and Jeffrey Wright. And then to
hear anew Kushner’s language—rich and poetic, lapidary and
humorous—in the service of what he once referred to as “a gay
fantasia on national themes.” If you lived through the Eighties, and
if many of your friends did not, then it’s almost impossible not to
feel as if you too were a character in Kushner’s play—and Nichols’
direction of this staggeringly beautiful and powerful work insures
that all viewers bear witness to those national themes: AIDS, and
the attendant hypocrisy, mixed with politics and power—and family.
At night’s end, on both nights, applause enveloped the theatre. As
directed by Nichols, Kushner’s drama remains every bit as momentous
and epic as it was when performed on Broadway.