Ivo Van Hove used a bare stage to stage Tony Kushner’s ANGELS IN AMERICA.
Mr. van Hove is known for skinning a play to its bare minimum.
He reduced Mr. Kushner’s epochal and epic two-part masterwork of the early 1990s showing a portrait of life and imminent death in the early years of the AIDS epidemic in New York into a single five-hour evening of theater. Toneelgroep Amsterdam company always performs in Dutch so if you are watching Angels for the first time, you surely will get lost.
The plot and structure remain the same. An ensemble of eight portrays diverse characters, all trying to find their balance and their moral compass on shifting ground. We go back and forth between hospital rooms, heaven, Antarctica, Fire Island and the cruising grounds of Central Park but the set and lighting did not help at all in letting us visualize that onstage which makes it confusing to determine where the characters are on top of constantly looking up to the English version of the dialogue.
But of the many stagings of this play that I’ve seen, this time, embracing life even in the face of death resonated the most. One thing I miss the most though is the Angel. In this version, he is one of the nurses. Gone is the part that the angel descended from heaven.
The stand out in the cast was Hans Kesting as Roy Cohn. The weakest link was Harper (Hélène Devos). The rest of the cast were very good: Prior Walter (Eelco Smits) , Louis Ironson (Fedja van Huet), and the sexually conflicted young lawyer Joe Pitt (Marwan Kenzari) Hannah (Marieke Heebink), Joe’s disapproving Mormon mother; or the dying Roy and the black gay nurse (and sometime drag queen) Belize (Roeland Fernhout), and there’s that angel (Alwin Pulinckx).
I was disappointed that Ivo restrained himself in terms of showing nudity here. The only one who went in the nude was Marwan Kenzari. He turned his back to the audience during his nude scene in Fire Island as he took off his clothes in front of Louis. He has a six pack, nice big nips and hairy asshole. From behind, I was able to see his shaved balls and uncut cock. I wish he faced the audience… Eelco Smits was in his undies as well as Hans Kesting as Roy Cohn. He is a DILF. During the first act, there was a scene where he was tucking his shirt inside his tight whities. From where I sat, I saw a quick glimpse of his balls.
Over-all, I enjoyed the show. But somehow, I miss the words of Tony Kushner. This time some words were lost in translation….
NUDITY RATING: 5 (Marwan Kenzari showed his hairy ass, balls and cock from behind)