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Review: Within 'The Normal Heart' beats a rather extraordinary one

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If the Zeitgeist Stage Company’s stunning production of “The Normal Heart” doesn’t put a lump in your throat and tears in your eyes, you'd better check for a pulse. And, if you’re old enough to remember the onset of the AIDS epidemic, be prepared for staggering moments of recall.

Director David Miller’s take on playwright/activist Larry Kramer’s tale of a small group of gay men responding to a plague is breathtaking. The entire talented ensemble beautifully captures the fear, outrage and hysteria of the time, yet also finds compassion and humanity at the center of the maelstrom.

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What may, at first glance, look like histrionics is actually the reality of the early '80s in New York City, when AIDS meant certain death, had no known cause and no name. Though frustration and desperation is still palpable, time and progress make it easier to see that, at its core, “The Normal Heart” is also a love story.

Victor Shopov is both exhausting and relentless in his moving portrayal of Ned Weeks, the writer hell bent on warning everyone about the unidentified plague. Just beneath his outrage, however, hides a lonely, frightened man who finds love at the worst possible moment.

Joey Pelletier's beautiful, vulnerable turn as Ned’s love interest Felix will likely move you to tears. Maureen Adduci turns in one of the finest performances of her impressive career as Dr. Emma Brookner, an angry physician with an ever-increasing case load of dying young men. Mikey Deloreto is equally impressive in a simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking turn as Mickey Marcus.

The set boasts statistics about the disease, projected names of its victims and a place to remember anyone you’d like. They also hand out red ribbons at the end of each performance. Good luck choking out a truly heartfelt thank you.

If you go

Through November 23
BCA Black Box Theatre
539 Tremont St., Boston
$25 , 617-933-8600
zeitgeiststage.com

 
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