Angels in America

Decidedly the more exciting half of Angels. Yes, Millennium Approaches has drug-induced trips to Antarctica, an AIDS-stricken gay-bashing high-powered lawyer, and a gay Mormon. But the second half takes that drama and raises it with an orgasm-inducing angel, an unfulfilled prophecy, and a trip to heaven. That said, Perestroika might feel incomplete on its own; a short paragraph can hardly summarize the first three hours. Flaws in comprehension, though, could hardly be attributed to the production, directed by David Hsieh, who sells the 2½-hour story at a brisk, highly engaging pace. At times, in some characters, the level of energy seems incongruous with the level of illness; Prior (Brandon Simmons) is quite emphatic for someone who can barely stand. Then again, actors are best to err on the side of captivating the audience, and Simmons certainly doesn’t lack presence. His scenes with Belize (ShawnJ West), his friend, nurse, and one-time sexual partner, are consistently funny, thanks in large part to West’s excellent sense of the play’s comedy. Louis (Alex Garnett), Prior’s MIA lover, and Joe (Mats Ecklund), Louis’s new lover, have great onstage chemistry, with all the complexity you’d expect from a left-wing Jewish ideologue and a Republican Mormon closet-case. BRENT ARONOWITZ Ethnic Cultural Theater, 3490 Brooklyn Ave. N.E., 364-3283, $6–$15. 7:30 p.m. Thurs., 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 7 p.m. Sun. Ends Aug. 10.

Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: July 17. Continues through Aug. 10, 2008

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