SUPERFAMILIAS: David Deblinger and Tim Getman (Stan Barouh/Theater J)
Any honest critic will occasionally find himself out on a lonely limb, and this week it’s my turn. To me and apparently no one else, Arena Stage’s The Normal Heart
— a historically vital play about the early years of the AIDS epidemic in New York City — is morally worthy but artistically wanting.
I am girding myself for hate mail.
People sometimes make fun of Ford’s Theatre’s presidential history plays for being dowdy and pedantic; for being more interested in teaching us A Very Important Lesson than in taking us somewhere. That’s how The Normal Heart felt to me, albeit with a lot more crying. (Also, I tend to like the musty presidential histories.) I happen to agree with the play’s politics, as I understand them — though that really shouldn’t matter at all — and I acknowledge in my review that activist/playwright Larry Kramer was writing in a time and place when subtlety would not have been an appropriate or effective response to the nightmare he and his peers were living through.
I just don’t think the preachy, shouty play he wrote holds up, removed from that urgent context. Your mileage may, and probably will, vary. Continue reading
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Tagged AIDS, Arena Stage, comics, David Bar Katz, Larry Kramer, sacred cows, superheroes, Superman, The History of Invulnerability, The Normal Heart, theater, Theater J, theatre, Washington City Paper
And that handsome guy right there is Michael Dove, artistic director of Forum Theatre and director of Angels in America: Perestroika. They’re doing that one, which is Part II, and Millennium Approaches, which is Part I, in rep, together.
Ballsy. Expensive. Etc.
I’ve got all the details in today’s Examiner.