Review: ‘Angels in America: Perestroika’

Earlier this season, the Canadian Stage Company delivered a sparkling production of "Millennium Approaches," the first part of Tony Kushner's "Angels in America." Now the company is tackling part two, "Perestroika," with confidence, energy and tremendous aplomb.

Earlier this season, the Canadian Stage Company delivered a sparkling production of “Millennium Approaches,” the first part of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America.” Now the company is tackling part two, “Perestroika,” with confidence, energy and tremendous aplomb. Both shows are running in rep throughout the winter.

In the more challenging “Perestroika,” there are some uneven spots. David Storch has adopted an annoyingly mannered articulation as Mormon Joe, while Linda Prystawska’s Angel is overly hysterical. But there is much here to praise and enjoy.

Karen Hines’ delicate and emotionally complex Harper continues to establish this fringe theater performer as a luminous, maturing talent; Patricia Hamilton is flawless as she seamlessly glides from one character to another; and Cassel Miles (Belize), Alex Poch-Goldin (Louis) and Tom Wood (Roy Cohn) build on their strengths from “Millennium.”

Much of the weight in “Perestroika” falls on the despicable shoulders of Cohn, the closeted homosexual lawyer who died of AIDS. For if Kushner’s healing vision is to sustain itself, even Cohn must be forgiven and the audience somehow prepared for this moment. The crucial scene of forgiveness is played here with sensitivity, humor and the generous humanity that is the heart of “Angels” and this production.

Not all the crossovers from reality to fantasy flow as effortlessly, either in the writing or in the acting, but overall this company has mounted an “Angels” that can stand alongside its Broadway counterpart. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the Toronto production is that it molds this devoutly American script, with its many references to specific political figures, into an utterly compelling and universal evening of theater.

Angels in America: Perestroika

Canadian Stage Company's 26 Berkeley St. Theater; 241 seats; C$45 ($34) top.

Production

A Canadian Stage Company presentation of a play in three acts by Tony Kushner. Directed by Bob Baker. Set and costumes, Leslie Frankish.

Creative

Lighting, Kevin Lamotte; music director, composer, Don Horsburgh; sound, David Patridge; fight direction, David Storch. Opened Nov. 6, 1996. Reviewed Nov. 21. Running time: 3 HOURS, 20 MIN.

Cast

Cast: Patricia Hamilton (Aleksii Antedilluvianovich Prelapsarianov/Hannah Porter Pitt/Henry/Ethel Rosenberg/The Angel Asiatica), Linda Prystawska (The Angel/Mormon Mother/Emily), Cassel Miles (Mr. Lies/Belize/The Angel Oceania), Karen Hines (Harper Amaty Pitt/The Angel Africanii), David Storch (Joseph Porter Pitt/Mormon Father/The Angel Europa), Steve Cumyn (Prior Walter), Tom Wood (Roy M. Cohn/The Angel Antarctica), Alex Poch-Goldin (Louis Ironson/The Angel Australia).
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