“Love is a trap,” Roy M. Cohn sardonically warns Prior Walter in “Angels in America.” “Responsibility is a trap, too.”
Cohn’s sardonic lines appear in Tony Kushner’s kaleidoscopic, award-winning play, “Angels in America.” It is so sprawling it comes in two parts: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika. Parts I and II will be streamed on two nights this weekend from London’s National Theatre to Durango’s Animas City Theatre. An encore presentation will take place in November.
National Theatre Live from Great Britain launched its international broadcasts in June 2009. Eight years later, more than 5.5 million people have seen live performances streamed to movie houses around the world. By 2017, the effort has expanded to include plays performed at other British theaters, including The Donmar Warehouse and the Young Vic.
Similar to the highly successful The MET Live in HD (transmissions of live operatic performances), NTL can now be seen in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and America via satellite technology.
For the past two years, Michele and Chris Redding, co-owners of Animas City Theatre, have transmitted London productions to 128 E. College Drive.
“Now we’re in our third year with NTL broadcasts,” Michele Redding said in a telephone interview last week. “When I first went to the Independent Theatre Owners Conference, I decided this is a good fit for Durango.”
The Saturday morning broadcasts are gradually building a local following, Redding said.
“Sometimes we have 12 people, and sometimes we’re packed – every seat taken. This fall, we’re opening with a double bill, ‘Angels in America’ Part I and Part II. It’s the only time we’ll have Friday evening and Saturday morning showings,” she said. “Usually, we schedule all the transmissions for 11 a.m. Saturdays. But this is special. We’re hoping to get the word out.”
“Angels in America” won just about every drama award in the mid-1990s, to name only two: the Tony and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It’s a dramatic epic about the 1980s AIDS crises in which Kushner commingles fictional and nonfictional characters to tell a complex and riveting story. In the NTL production, Nathan Lane, the versatile American actor, portrays Cohn, based on the corrupt McCarthyite attorney whose stain continues to permeate American politics. British actor Andrew Garfield (“Spider-Man”) plays the protagonist Prior Walter who is dying of AIDS.
You can see excerpts on YouTube or read reviews because the play opened earlier this year in London. Tickets are $15, a price Redding negotiated as low as possible for the Durango market, slightly above regular movies and almost $10 less than The MET Live.
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theater Critics Association.