This past week, I received a postcard in the mail advertising a production of Angels in America at the Court Theatre. They are doing both parts one and two in an all-night extravaganza! Now while Part Two is just ok, Part One is phenomenal.
I have read this play about a hundred times, watched the movie a few dozen times, and seen the live production twice. Kushner never fails to take my breath away with his dialogue and characterization. And when you combine his words with Al Pacino’s performance, then you get something truly spectacular. Here is a monologue delivered by Roy Cohen, a complete and total evil bastard of a man who wades deep in the river of denial:
“You know your problem Henry is that you are hung up on words, on labels, that you believe they mean what they seem to mean. AIDS, homosexual, gay, lesbian, you think these are names that tell you who someone sleeps with? They don’t tell you that. No. Like all labels they tell you one thing and one thing only: where does an individual’s sole identity fit in the food chain. In the pecking order. None of ideology or sexual taste but something much simpler, clout. Not who I fuck or fucks me but who will pick up the phone when I call, who owes me favors. This is what a label refers to. Now to someone who does not understand this, homosexual I what I am because I have sex with men but really this is wrong. Homosexuals are not men who sleep with other men. Homosexuals are men who in 15 years of trying can’t pass a pissant anti-discrimination bill through city council. Homosexuals are men who know nobody and who nobody knows, who have zero clout. Does this sound like me Henry? No. I have clout. Lots. … I don’t want you to be impressed. I want you to understand.”
Damn. He said what now?
The leaps in logic and the deep-seated psychological self-hatred that is revealed in just these few lines is enough to take your breath away. Now if you really want to be rendered speechless, here’s the scene from the movie: