Possibly one of the best scenes I have ever seen on a TV screen and the moment when I realised that the Angels in America mini-series was something incredibly special. The scene is almost word perfect from the play-page with only a few adaptations to suit Pacino’s rhythm as Roy Cohn. The most substantial change being a line delivered by James Cromwell who plays Roy’s doctor
“What are you doing, Roy?” – Play
“Why are you doing this Roy?” – Screenplay
Although similar in content I actually think that the screenplay was a fair update because the doctor knows exactly what Roy Cohn is doing by forcing the issue but does not understand why. Another reason why the updated script is possibly better than the older version is that Tony Kushner himself did all of the re-writes. An interesting and daring experiment, especially considering that The Millennium Approaches won him a Pulizter for drama. It is hard to judge the quality of the whole text update by this one scene as the play is epic in scope and the mini-series is hours long. Plus, much to my sadness, I have never seen the play on stage so a direct aesthetic comparison is hard to procure.
However, this play created one of the most exciting television event of the last ten decades and a mini-series that expanded the imagination, did not pull any punches when it came to serious public and personal issues, got Al Pacino back on form (finally) and gave viewers a chance to see Emma Thompson act out an orgasm while flying through the air dressed as an angel.
This week’s awesome discovery: Nick Reding played Joe Pitt at the National in London in 1992. Look him up (and I will write about him later on).