No, not a review quite yet, but a piece on Tony Kushner from the Guardian (here).
The first time I saw a Tony Kushner play, I was an unwilling audience member who feared being trapped in a theatre on a swelteringly hot summer night for a three-hour snoozathon about Afghanistan. Within 10 minutes, I was enraptured, and it has been that way for me with Kushner ever since.
He is probably best known as the author of the epic Angels in America, which has just finished its first British revival, at the Lyric Hammersmith, since its 1992 debut. This stunning, panoramic, seven-hour epic is set in Reagan's New York as Aids begins to cast its shadow over the gay community, but it reaches far beyond this to cover questions of human progress and universal matters of the human heart.
The play's characters, including a disintegrating gay couple and a notorious crooked lawyer, are all stamped with Kushner's trademark eloquence. They barrel on in a manner that would be Shakespearean - poetic, metaphorical, philosophical - but for the references to the ozone layer. It works on screen as well, as proved by the award-winning TV version, which starred Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson.
Kushner's most recent London premiere was Caroline, or Change, at the National, a musical about a black maid in a Jewish household at the time of the Kennedy assassination. Again, Kushner tackles a turning point in American history, exploring the intimate lives of his characters against this pivot. True to form, the cast includes a singing washing machine.
The music, by Jeanine Tesori, is a passionate combination of blues, folk and spirituals, with Kushner's profound, euphonic lyrics putting them to flight. The songs are the only time Caroline, the maid, can express her feelings with fluency and emotion, compared to the regular prolixity of the sophisticated family.
That first play I was so wary of was in fact a double bill: Homebody/Kabul. Homebody is a 40-minute monologue by a woman passionate about Afghanistan; she tells of how she wants to go there and how the people suffer under the Taliban. Kabul follows her husband and daughter as they go to Afghanistan to recover her body. This pre-9/11 play is most notable for a violent and prophetic speech delivered by an Afghan about how terror will be taken to New York. In the humid Young Vic in 2002, this was a knockout blow, couched in Kushner's trademark fast-flowing style.
Kushner is never concerned with anything less than the greatest matters of life - he presents the microcosms of human interactions and the macrocosms of global movements, always wrapped up in the most literate and passionate way.