The long and strange history of Angels productions in NC is an interesting one, but I have been shocked that no review (including this one) has asked why the Playmakers production is staged as it is.
I left the theater after 2 nights wondering why scenes that are supposed to be on stage simultaneously aren't, why scenes that are supposed to be huge get few props and little lighting and occasionally take place off-stage, why the few props that are on the stage are spaced ludicrously far apart, why there are endless blackouts in a play that is purposefully designed to have few, why almost no actor touched another unless they are fighting or fucking, and why so often the actor had his/her back to the audience.
The decision to disregard many of Kushner's explicit stage directions isn't just one of taste. Not having scenes running parallel to each other on the stage means they can't begin to interact with each other (walls begin to fall everywhere) and results in endless blackouts when switiching between scenes that should be simultaneous, meaning long dead spots in a play that should clip along.
The actors playing Belize and Harper never got the timing of their parts right (although I wonder if this is due more to the endless blackouts and prop carrying they were involved with than a lack of talent)and for a play labelled as a gay fantasia, a woman on a ladder and 4 falling pieces of plywood doesn't cut it for an angel's entrance.
This is the 1st time I left Playmakers disappointed, but they made a lot of blatant decisions that run counter to important stage notes and for me it ruined the play. I was dreadfully bored by the middle of Part II, which turned into a long series of 2 actors entering the stage with handful of props, the setting of those props, a discussion with at least one person's back to the audience, blackout, and repeat.
Kushner comes to CH in April. I wonder what he would have to say about Playmakers production? And why aren't any of the area's critics asking about the thinking in disregarding much of Kushner's guidelines for his play?
Indy Week • 302 E. Pettigrew St., Suite 300, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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