HOUSTON VOICE / APRIL 7, 1995 17
Part I of 'Angels' at the Alley an
is mosi obviously
notable in the two
and lack of honor
'felt by Louis and
joe. and ihe feelings of abandonment which Prior
and Harper have in
Ii is the slew of references, however, which are
i v e,
dozen mentions io ^^^^^^^^^^
works and stars of
film and (heater. Kushner's own
background provides a trove of
sources for Jewish references
throughout the play, and his fascination with M o r m o n i s m positions it
strongly in "Millennium."
Kushner uses methods both tried and
relatively untested in tying his characters together. Louis, as il so happens, works in the same courthouse as
Joe. Joe walks in on Louis in ihe bathroom where is he is dabbing al crocodile tears. The two exchange pleasani-
ries and apologies for the awkward
moment, hi the brief discourse, Louis
reveals his assumption that Joe is gay.
An assumption he affirms with a peck on
ihe cheek, even after Joe denies being
homosexual, and a base is laid.
The judge for whom Joe clerks happens io be in the hip pocket of Conn, and
Cohn otters Joe a job in Washington,
D.C. working for ihe Justice Department .
Black as Roy Cohn
■linni Approaches "
Two othei characters enter the
through the dynamic events occurring
in both relationships, Belize
(Michael McElroy) is Prior's former
lover and a now a good friend. A no-nonsense q in- e n , Be I i ze s lm w s g r e a (
paiience with boih Prioi and Louis, yet
little tolerance for wayward behavior from either, and she has arrived to
offer care and comfort to Prior.
Hannah Put (Betlye Fitzpairick) is
Joe's mother. She has a salt-of-the-
earth presence with a stern, matronly
disposition, She goes to New York
when Joe informs her that he is gay.
Perhaps ihe best pan of Kushner's
structure are the dreams and hallucinations. Prior and Harper share one
together, in which ihey also share the
"threshold of revelalion," and
thereby reveal aspects of each other's
Harper's hallucinations are generally haunted by Mr. Lies (McElroy), a sinister travel agent who
guides Harper I brough her dream-
scapes. Prior's dreams at first consist
Of a mellifluous voice, bul evenlu-
ally involve apparitions of two
ancestors, Prior l (Whalen) and Prior
Z (Black) are prior Prior Walters, who
were both victims of plagues from (heir
own time pei iods.
Cohn's hallucination is by far the
worst. He must lace Ethel Rosenberg
dit/pairick), and years earlier Cohn
had been instrumental in ensuring
thai Rosenberg had received the death
penally Her appearance ignites
Cohn's stubbornness and bravado,
bin she is more than an illusion of the
pasi come to haunt ihe present. She is a
harbinger of irrevocable change:
"History is about io crack wide open.
Millennium approaches." And
states that there will
be an accounting for
There are masterful performances
from the entire cast.
John Feltch has a CO)
though not overpow
as Prior. Feltch
exudes a succoring
indignant rage and a
willowy amazement. His performance is sustained and
Joseph Haj has an
demeanor as Louis.
Though ihe tormeni he exhibits seems
somewhat forced, Haj more than compensates with a salutary run through
Louis' rambling rationalizations
and lamentable acknowledgements.
David Whalen gives a sterling per
formance as Joe. He does a stunning
job with Joe's interactions with
Harper, moving from perfunctory
concern to self—righteous denial to
As both ihe nefarious Roy Cohn and
the ehullieni Prior 2, James Black is
remarkable. Black has an explosive
slage personality that erupls in firebrand posturing, and he brilliantly
caplures Cohn's undiluted arrogance.
Annalee Jefferies is hypnotic as the
distraught Harper. At times lacking
in stridency, Jefferies nevertheless displays an identifiable
resolve in her otherwise ethereal
Michael McElroy has a grand elan as
Ihe ebullient Belize. Me performs
wilh unabashed panache and brings a
d i st inc live familiarity to his
Director Michael Wilson is in lop form
with this production. He astutely
places emphasis in all the right places:
Cohn's unbridled rage, Belize's
giant flourishes; Prior's desperate
pleas; Louis' continuing guilt;
Harper's spacey monologues; and
Joe's stoic morality are all vividly
elicited from die players by Wilson.
Mosi importantly Wilson doesn't over
dramatize the work (which could easily be done). Kushner's play is rife wilh
humor, and Wilson doesn't miss a single line in that regard.
"Millennium Approaches" is a
magnificent drama, bul one thing it
mosi certainly is not is a complete
work. This is definitely a part one, for
"Millennium" has no finality whatsoever. The closing lines, "Greetings. Prophet/The Great Work begins/
The Messenger has arrived." clearh
portend much more to come.
And though only half a play, •'Millennium" is unsurpassed as drama. Mark
this: before the millennium has
arrived college students everywhere will be analyzing this text, providing their own insight and interpre-
ation, and they wilfbe doin6 „„ 1U1
generations to come; that is the literary significance of this work —it
will he a tool of instruction, a model of
superior theaier. "Millennium
Approaches" is a tremendous experience, and I urge you with trembling
pleasure to see this play. It's the greatest theatrical work of ihe last half of
ihis century. Bravo!
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