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What Is the Story of Angels in America: Millennium Approaches?
In the first part of Tony Kushner’s epic drama of gay life in mid-1980s America, eight characters are introduced who intersect through seven riveting hours of theater. (Millennium Approaches runs three hours; Perestroika runs three hours and 40 minutes; both plays have two intermissions.) Joe and Harper Pitt are an attractive young Mormon couple who moved from Utah to Brooklyn for his job as law clerk to a conservative judge. Harper is a Valium addict; Joe is a closeted gay man. Meanwhile, Prior Walter has been diagnosed with AIDS and his longtime lover, Louis Ironson, can’t cope with caring for a gravely ill partner. At St. Vincent’s Hospital, an African American nurse known as Belize (who happens to be Prior’s previous lover) reluctantly cares for notorious lawyer Roy Cohn, an AIDS patient who enters the hospital claiming to be suffering from liver cancer. Cohn receives ghostly visitations from Ethel Rosenberg, the woman he helped send to the electric chair for spying. The final character is an angel who (literally) crashes through Prior’s ceiling during an illness-induced vision.