Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Angels in America—Part II: Perestroika
Round House Theatre / Olney Theatre Center
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's recent reviews of The Little Foxes and The Gulf


Mitchell Hébert and Sarah Marshall
Photo by Danisha Crosby
Angels in America—Part II: Perestroika is an even more ambitious work than the first part of Tony Kushner's epic, Millennium Approaches [see Susan's review]; it runs more than three and a half hours and brings the personal and political drama into new settings including the Mormon Visitor Center in Manhattan and even Heaven. The production now at Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland, is a triumph of individual and ensemble acting, stagecraft, and pacing—despite its length, the play never drags. The two plays will now run in rep.

This awesome undertaking is the result of a partnership between Round House and Olney Theatre Center, with the artistic director of each company staging one of the plays. Ryan Rilette's work on Perestroika is as assured and confident as was Jason Loewith's on Millennium Approaches.

Where the first play is more evenly divided among the eight actors, Perestroika spends a majority of its time with two characters: Prior Walter (Tom Story), who is visited by an angel (Dawn Ursula) and given a prophecy to deliver, and Roy Cohn (Mitchell Hébert), dying of AIDS but as malevolent as ever. (Kushner may be a prophet himself; no one could have foreseen the parallels between his version of Cohn and Donald Trump, a protégé of the real Cohn, such as the vicious personal attacks, the scandalous accusations that may or may not have some actual truth, and the with-me-or-against-me loyalty tests for those around him.)

Both Story and Hébert demonstrate the strength and pacing of marathon runners as their characters attempt to come to terms with their roles in the universe. Ursula is an awe-inspiring warrior angel—she flies, too, thanks to D2 Flying Effects, and makes it look natural—and Sarah Marshall captivates as a flinty Mormon woman and as the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg, keeping vigil at the deathbed of her tormentor Cohn. The entire cast is doing world-class work and capably convey both the necessary intensity and all the humor in this surprisingly funny play.

James Kronzer's wide open set undergoes even more transformations than it does in the first play, bolstered by Clint Allen's projections that range from images of people to shimmering, stylized views of darkness and snowfall. Ivania Stack's costumes range from Prior's "prophet" garb to the colorful scrubs worn by nurse Belize (Jon Hudson Odom).

Round House Theatre and Olney Theatre Center
Angels in America—Part II: Perestroika
September 7th - October 30th, 2016, in repertory with Angels in America—Part I: Millennium Approaches
Louis, Angel Australia: Jonathan Bock
Harper, Martin Heller, Mormon Mother, Angel Africanii: Kimberly Gilbert
Roy Cohn, Prior 2, Angel Antarctica: Mitchell Hébert
Joe, Prior 1, The Eskimo, Mormon Father, Angel Europa: Thomas Keegan
Rabbi Chemelwitz, Henry, Hannah, Ethel Rosenberg, Aleksii Antedilluvianovich Prelapsarianov, Angel Asiatica: Sarah Marshall
Mr. Lies, Belize, Voice of Caleb, Angel Oceania: Jon Hudson Odom
Prior Walter, Man in the Park: Tom Story
Emily, Sister Ella Chapter, The Homeless Woman, Angel, Voice of Orrin: Dawn Ursula
Directed by Ryan Rilette
Round House Theatre
4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD
Ticket Information: 240-564-1100 or www.roundhousetheatre.org

Arena Stage
The Little Foxes
September 23rd - October 30th, 2016
By Lillian Hellman
Addie: Kim James Bey
Cal: David Emerson Toney
Birdie Hubbard: Isabel Keating
Oscar Hubbard: Gregory Linington
Leo Hubbard: Stanton Nash
Regina Giddens: Marg Helgenberger
William Marshall/Fight Captain: James Whelan
Benjamin Hubbard: Edward Gero
Alexandra Giddens: Megan Graves
Horace Giddens: Jack Willis
Directed by Kyle Donnelly
Kreeger Theater, Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, Sixth and Maine avenues SW
Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-488-3300 or www.arenastage.org


Privacy Policy