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REVIEW: Angels In America

Review by Markus Hamence – Performance date 2 & 3 May 2024, Little Theatre, Adelaide Uni, South Australia

‘Angels in America’ by Tony Kushner is a powerful, complex piece of theatre that tackles themes of homosexuality, politics, and AIDS against the backdrop of 1980s America. The play, subtitled ‘A Gay Fantasia on National Themes’, is split into two parts: ‘Millennium Approaches’ and ‘Perestroika’. It’s a bold, ambitious work that combines realistic and fantastical elements to explore the struggles of its characters in a time of crisis.

This production is presented by University of Adelaide Theatre Guild, and best you buckle up, the play is spread over two performances, Part One and then Part Two (Over various days or times slots depending on which session you book in for) and each part being 3.5 hours. But, don’t let this overwhelm you, the seven hours flit by very quickly as you are drawn deep into a rollercoaster of various feelings and gut-wrenching shock.

A Tale of Two Parts

Millennium Approaches

The first part of the play introduces us to a diverse group of interconnected characters. We meet Prior Walter, played magnificently by Matthew Houston, who is diagnosed with AIDS, and his partner Louis Ironson (equally brilliant by Lee Cook), who struggles with his commitment as Prior’s illness progresses. There’s Joe Pitt (Masterfully played by Lindsay Prodea), a Mormon lawyer hiding his sexual orientation, and his wife Harper (Complexly explored by the talented Casmire Lorien), who battles with mental health issues and addiction. These personal stories are set against a larger political context, featuring historical figures like Roy Cohn (Memorably played by Brant Eustice), a powerful lawyer who also faces AIDS while denying his homosexuality.

This part sets the stage with its exploration of abandonment and betrayal, as each character faces their personal and societal demons. The approach is raw and unfiltered, capturing the emotional and political turmoil of the time.


In the second part, the play delves deeper into the characters’ journeys towards acceptance and healing. It’s more fantastical, with ethereal visitations and prophetic dreams, including the angel who visits Prior, proclaiming him a prophet. The characters confront their pasts and make tough decisions about their futures, all while navigating the changing social and political landscape.

Perestroika brings closure to the many threads woven in the first part, though not always neatly. It challenges the characters – and the audience – to consider what it means to move forward in the face of overwhelming adversity.

The Power of Storytelling

There truly is no review that can do this piece of theatre justice or convey the heavy content that is explored. It is writing at it’s best and a play that MUST BE SEEN by any avid theatre lover or even as an entry piece for the theatre curious. It sets the bench mark high.

Kushner’s play is a testament to the power of theatre to address serious topics such as disease, death, and politics with a narrative that is both entertaining and enlightening. The dialogue is sharp, the pacing intense, and the interplay between the realistic and the supernatural is seamlessly executed.

The character development is a strong point of the play, with each character given depth and complexity that evoke empathy from the audience. Kushner does not shy away from showing his characters’ flaws, which makes them all the more human and relatable.

The entire cast are triumphant in their acting chops and their ability to take on a very dark and emotive story line. Further to the brilliance of the actors previously mentioned…

Kate Anolak as Hannah Pitt and Ethel Rosenberg is exceptional as a thespian and shines on stage, her commitment to her role is evident and authentic.

Eric McDowell as Belize and Mr Lies is wonderful in his roles and has a very engaging presence.

And, Rachel Dalton as the Angel is terrifyingly menacing and has a larger than life energy (helped by the feathered wings and twisted audio).

It was a heartbreaking and, at times, comedic joy to watch an ensemble of very talented actors tackle this play with incredible emotion and success which is well-worthy of awards and accolades.

Impact and Legacy

‘Angels in America’ has had a profound impact on American theatre and culture – It did not stop there as it’s productions around the world has been embraced and experienced by many. It challenges its audience to reflect on themes of redemption, the human spirit, and the societal constructs that define and confine us. The play won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and several Tony Awards.

Its relevance persists, as it continues to be staged around the world, adapted into an HBO miniseries (With Meryl Streep and Al Pacino), and studied in academic settings. Kushner’s work is celebrated not only for its artistic brilliance but also for its courageous engagement with controversial issues.

The Crew

Director/Designer – Hayley Horton
Assistant Director – Tracey Walker
Stage Manager – Heather Jones
Lighting Designer – Mark Oakley
Sound Designer and Operation – Phil Short
Lighting Operation – Rowan Gedling
Set Construction – Malcom Horton (Manager), John Patiniotis, Simon Grealy, Robert De Donatis, Kasmir Williams, Haider Syed and Mark Wigley
Scenic Art – Josh Horton
Costumes – Viktoria Burrett, Emily Currie and Matthew Rossi
Props – Heather Jones, Carmel Boffa and Mark Rogers
Angel Wings and Headdresses – Shair Harkness
Wigs and Makeup – Vanessa Shirley
Dressers – Viktoria Burrett and Emily Currie
Stage Crew – Carmel Boffa and Lucy Johnson
Graphic Design – Squirrel Gripp Design
UATG Administration – Annabel Whitford
Front Of House – UATG Volunteers


‘Angels in America’ is more than just a play; it’s an experience. It’s about confronting our deepest fears and prejudices, about finding redemption in our most trying moments, and about the ongoing struggle for truth and justice in a world full of noise. It’s a rich, challenging text that rewards the audience with its depth and its humanity. Whether you see it on stage, read it in a book, or watch the miniseries, ‘Angels in America’ is a monumental work that continues to resonate deeply in the hearts of its viewers. University of Adelaide Theatre Guild deliver, once again, outstanding work that is quality theatre. Bravo my friends.

It’s a worthy FIVE STARS from me 🙂

Angels In America
2-25 May 2024
Little Theatre
Tickets here!

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