Huge Canvas for an Incisive Picture of Modern America

Article excerpt

Byline: Philip Key

A MERICAN playwright Tony Kushner's largescale drama Angels in America had a humble start in a small American theatre.

It went on to wow Broadway audiences, pick up a Pulitzer Prize and enjoy productions world-wide including one at Britain's National Theatre.

It has finally arrived in Liverpool in a new production which will in some way take the play back to its theatrical origins.

At least, that's the opinion of director Lee Beagley whose new production for the Unity Theatre opens tomorrow.

Not that there is anything smallscale in this particular production.

Beagley, director of the Liverpoolbased Kaboodle Theatre, explains: ``It's a large scale production for any theatre and is presented in the same sort of epic way which Kaboodle presented dramas like King Lear and A View From the Bridge.''

Beagley directed both of those for Kaboodle as well as starring in them.

This time there is a difference. This is not a Kaboodle production but one being staged by the Unity Theatre itself with cash help from a number of sources including the city's Capital of Culture bid team.

``I had wanted to put this play on some years ago but I have had to wait and find an appropriate time for such a big production.''

Indeed it is so large that it is being shown in two parts running in total to something like five hours.

The sheer scale of the piece has also meant that Beagley will not be appearing himself. ``It would be totally impossible to direct and act in it,'' he laughs.

The play, says Beagley, is about how social changes in the late 20th Century affected the lives of ordinary people. …