As the year draws towards an end, we’ve been getting more and more strong performances and stories on the stage. Upon watching the final scene of Angels In America Part 1 at Damansara Performing Arts Centre on 29 November’s afternoon showing, we were particularly satiated.
One of many of the play’s titular angels bursts through a cloud of a smoke, over a sick man, and this is an image which left us quite gleeful; after a year in the garage, Theatrethreesixty‘s ambitious staging from last year has gained a new level of impact and accessibility. Two years on, the theatre company pulled off their biggest production from last year with aplomb.
Existing and traversing between white squares on stage which denote various locations, the differences splitting its characters and the camps they represent are heightened. The play’s original Jewish theme however is played down to the best of its director’s capability in order to let its core message get through.
Its returning cast members feel more at ease with their characters (Abdul Qahar Aqilah‘s Roy Cohn for instance has mellowed out but lost none of his venom), while the newer ones tackle the role with gusto: Ivan Chan‘s performance of Belize and Mr. Lies was riotous and a crowd favourite.
Viewers can also expect some chemistry between Michael Chen as Joe Pitt and Lim Kien Lee as Louis Ironson; Michael’s sensitive take on his role results in an extremely relatable and lovestruck Joe, while Kien Lee’s Louis is much easier to follow — he really does seem to buy into his own words on top of being highly-adept at explaining himself!
As the play draws to its cliffhanger ending, we see everyone on stage gathering around the protagonist — each actor inflicts chaos around its AIDS-inflicted, so-called prophet. It’s a stunning scene which preempts its characters returning to their own designated places while the sound of flapping wings reverberate in the black box.
Set during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and displaying its effect on the lives of people from diverse backgrounds, Angels In America bears relevance to a multi-ethnic Malaysian audience facing challenging political times. Its characters may be segregated by their power, class, religion and race, but they mostly choose to unite for a deeper cause: hope in humanity.
It’s a magical, timely staging, and one we encourage as many people as possible to watch. Don’t be put off by its length — at slightly less than three hours, Angels In America Part 1 gives you an epic, complex story which if excessively-trimmed won’t do justice to its source material.
If you’re going to watch this, we advise you put aside a whole day for some good theatre: Angels In America Part 1 will also leave you wanting to watch its sequel, which is being staged concurrently.
Angels In America Part 1 concludes its run this Sunday at DPAC.
Theatrethreesixty presents Tony Kushner’s ‘Angels In America’ at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC) Black Box from November 28 – 29, December 5 – 6, 12 – 13 @ Part 1 at 2pm & Part 2 at 8.30pm; December 3 & 10 @ Part 1 at 8.30pm; December 4 & 11 @ Part 2 at 8.30pm. To purchase tickets, call +603-4065 0001 or visit DPAC’s website. For more information, follow Theatrethreesixty on their Facebook page or their Facebook event page. All photos taken by Ch’ng Shi P’ng.