No expiration date for ‘Angels in America’

Ben Pelteson and Aubrey Deeker star in the Wilma’s production of “Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches.”

It’s been more than 20 years since Tony Kushner’s epic tragicomic fantasy about politics and the AIDS crisis had its world premiere. Despite being set during Ronald Reagan’s second term and written during the first George Bush’s tenure, Wilma Theater artistic director Blanka Zizka insists that “Angels in America” is absolutely relevant in the age of Obama.

“I still feel that we still have the same problems that are expressed in the play,” Zizka says. “There are so many questions that are asked about what it means to be a citizen, what democracy means, what justice means. The problems that Tony is exposing have only become worse, so the play is still timely.”

The Wilma’s stunning production of “Angels in America Part One: Millennium Approaches” closes its current season (their 2012/2013 season will open in the fall with “Part Two: Perestroika”). Set on a bare white stage, Zizka’s staging celebrates a transparent theatricality emphasized by Kushner’s writing. “Tony’s ideas, his theatricality, his way of writing are so close to our ideas of theater,” Zizka says. “That was the first impetus for doing this play. But ‘Angels in America’ has really become an American classic. I think the AIDS crisis and the political crisis at the time forced Tony to explore much bigger themes than playwrights usually echo.”

If you go
   
‘Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches’
Through July 1
Wilma Theater
265 South Broad St.
$39-$66,
215-546-7824
www.wilmatheater.org


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