Angels in America. A Gay Fantasia on National Themes by Tony Kushner highlights the frailty of human life and the stereotypes generated with being male, guy and elite.The play begins with a tragedy. I am assuming that Kushner is foreshadowing a death sentence, death or future of funerals to come. Upon first reading the introduction to the play with the funeral, I felt a sense of detachment. The way that the Rabbi was struggling for words to say about Sarah, presented for me a sense of unfamiliarity. This reminds me of the Bahamian culture, when pastors or reverends are officiating funerals for defamed characters, but they try to say something positive.
Kushner presents irony in his play in the form of Christian notions. Roy is on the phone frustrated and he keeps swearing and cursing. “God fucking Dammit, Christ”.
Roy is represented as a symbol of corruption and control. Joe requests that Roy not call the name of the Lord in vain in his presence, because this type of behavior is making him uncomfortable. But isn’t Joe a homosexual though? Presenting himself like an upright holder of Christian principles. Joe embodies family values; he is religious, married and puts his family first. Joe consults has to consult his wife before he could take the job in Washington.
First impression, Roy comes across as this “bad ass”, ultra masculine man, but he is gay. As the play progresses, he is exposed for the “timid mouse” that he is. This is represented in the scene when he is told he has HIV. Roy’s fragile nature is unleashed, he is calm about having HIV and excuses it as “liver cancer”. Here Kushner alludes to the fragility of human beings, as it relates to their social status.
When Louis mentions the gay Republican, Joe feels the need to defend himself. “Not gay. I’m not gay”. Joe’s denial only seems to further the notion that he is suppressing his true feelings of who he really is (a homosexual). Prior on the other hand, embraces his homosexuality. Kushner allows readers to envision the realities of life. Most men often cover up their homosexuality life by getting married and starting families. They engage/embrace their homosexuality in their secret lives, but socially go through any means to shun or overlook it.
In this play, Kushner demonstrates the struggles of gays and persons with AIDS; and the negative connotations and stereotypes associated with it. During this time, AIDS was closely linked to the gay male community. The reference made to Reagan, was as a result of his refusal to mention AIDS in public speeches, support federal funding for AIDS awareness, or education and medical research. As a result, throughout the play, Kushner is trying to bring awareness of sexuality (the fact that he himself is a homosexual). The characters in the play all struggle with some form of stereotypes, and the pressures that society puts on them to act.