Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Round House has partnered with the Olney Theatre Center to present both parts of Angels in America: Jason Loewith, Olney's artistic director, staged Millennium Approaches and Ryan Rilette, his counterpart at Round House, will direct the second part, Perestroika, which opens in October. The two plays will then be performed in rep.
Kushner was writing in the 1990s about the 1980s, using the AIDS crisis as the lens through which he viewed a fragmented, angry, frustrated nation. Rather than seeming dated, much of his political commentary has taken on additional resonances in the passing decades, notably the central presence of corrupt power broker Roy Cohn (Mitchell Hébert)now in the news again as mentor and lawyer to Donald Trump. (One bit of Kushner's prescience: his version of the amoral Cohn says, confidently, "I like God and God likes me.")
The drama, while vast in scale, is intimate in focus, using two couples to show a society whose members no longer care for each other.
In 1985 New York City, Prior Walter (Tom Story) is diagnosed with AIDS and his lover, Louis Ironson (Jonathan Bock), can't deal with it. Louis works in a courthouse where lawyer Joe Pitt (Thomas Keegan) is a judge's clerk. Joe, a Mormon and a Republican, denies his homosexuality and attempts to hold together his marriage to nervous, agoraphobic Harper (Kimberly Gilbert) while being groomed by Roy for a Justice Department job. Roy, meanwhile, denies his AIDS diagnosis and his identity as a gay man because, to him, gay people are losers and he's a winner.
Loewith is working with actors at the top of their gamealso including Sarah Marshall as Joe's mother, Jon Hudson Odom as a warm-hearted nurse, and Dawn Ursula in several rolesand he has brought them together as a notably successful ensemble. James Kronzer's scenic design suggests a gutted factory building with vaulted ceiling and large, high windows, with furnishings appearing as needed from the wings or under the stage. York Kennedy's lighting design and Joshua Horvath's sound design create an all-encompassing environment for actors and audience alike, spiked by Clint Allen's surreal projections.
Round House Theatre and Olney Theatre Center