Angels in America may have been shocking when it first was produced, but this production was inspiring and up lifting. What a pleasure to see this play in a city and country that has taken a leadership role in gay rights and gay marriage, at a time when other countries, in particular Russia, are increasing repression. At the end of each of the two plays, all I could think was “Take that, Vladimir Putin!”.
But moving on from the political to the artistic – this production was riveting from beginning to end. There was not a sound from the audience: everyone was totally focused on watching and listening to the outstanding actors. Damien Atkins was superb as Prior Walter. His big eyes and baby face were entrancing. He was strong and bitchy in all the right proportions. It was such a relief when he was still alive at the end! He has definitely stepped up into the league of the best of Canadian actors with this role. Diego Matamoros is always a pleasure to watch, but this time he exceeded his own high standards. His Roy Cohn was the perfect mix of sleaze and bravado. You couldn’t help hating him and loving him. Just an amazing performance.
The rest of the cast kept up with the performances of Atkins and Matamoros. Each actor played one key and several minor roles. I am becoming a fan of both Gregory Prest and Mike Ross. I don’t remember seeing Troy Adams before, but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for him. His performance as Belize was heartwarming and funny. Nancy Palk’s little smile as Ethel Rosenberg was just perfect: it made the character. Michelle Monteith and Raquel Daly did more than fill in the blanks in their many supporting roles. They both delivered the kind of performance this production demanded. Kudos to Albert Schultz for his direction. His pacing and use of the stage and lighting made it not only possible, but pleasurable to watch both of the three hour plays in one day. It was tiring, but it was a great day of theatre. Worth the drive to Toronto!