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Angels in my office

Hot on the heels of the emotion-draining finale of Russell T Davies’ wonderful It’s A Sin on Channel 4, I have watched the National Theatre’s Angels In America, Parts One and Two. Staged and recorded on the South Bank back in 2017, these are now available on NT At Home for a small rental fee. Given my current obsession with theatre (what timing – I know! Ridiculous!), it amazes me that I didn’t go to see this when it was playing. Sadly, most productions just passed me by when I was working, and it was as much as I could do to watch a challenging drama on TV, let alone stay up in London after work to go to a theatre. Or, more to the point, engage my brain sufficiently to be aware of what was available and get round to booking it. That is a great shame, in retrospect, but I am making up for it now, nobly aided by the increasing number of theatres who are sharing their back catalogues online.

It is definitely not the same experience – sitting at my desk peering at the production on the small screen. Sometimes I connect to the TV downstairs and watch with my husband, but we are already behind on our planned TV box-set bingeing and films we have listed to watch. So, more often than not, I watch alone on my laptop with headphones on. In some ways this is more intimate and, given that watching with just one other person in the living room is hardly going to replicate the experience of sitting in a huge auditorium (or even a small one) with hundreds of strangers, I see it as a reasonable choice, unless it’s being live-streamed which is a different matter.

I watched Part Two in the morning. This did feel a little strange. Or at least, it felt strange to re-engage with the theatrical world at 10am at my office desk, and weird afterwards that it was only lunchtime, but during the course of the play I was completely enraptured by the performances, carried away into the NT’s magical space, and it could have been any time at all.

I have seen so many extracts from and references to Angels in America since I have been following actors, theatres and directors on social media, so I was excited to see that it was available to rent. I have definitely not been disappointed. I feel I don’t want to explain it – it touched on such a broad range of life through its ‘gay fantasia’: politics, love, sexuality, familial relationships, mental health, angels… It was serious but also light and funny and camp and gorgeous and stark. (Never a dull moment!)





The staging was brilliant: sometimes multiple scenes visible through each other at the same time (I love when they do this in the theatre – not entirely sure why); movement from one place to another, one dimension to another; minimalist representation of spaces. Of course, it would have been much better to see it in situ (and LIVE!!!), but on the other hand we have the advantage of the camera close-up from time to time which is harder to get when sitting in the cheap seats. Thus what is lost in the awesomeness of staging mechanics on the night, is gained in the actors’ facial and physical detail.

Enough! I know I am, once again, fan-girling. Daily life experiences at the moment are severely straitened, and that may be making this worse, but I seem to be hurtling down another drama-obsessive theatrical path – all luvvied up.

Ah well, there are worse things.

Post-script: The problem with doing culture in the mornings is where do you go from there? I went to Sainsburys. That brought me back down to earth.

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