Saturday, July 31, 2004

Make no mistake about it, Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart is an angry polemic. There is little poetry in it, or beauty or any of the things that we so admire in art these days. The play is an angry howl of rage, the rage of a man who fought the system and encountered systematic indifference, apathy, even outright hostility. Kramer's greatest achievement in the play is that he manages to walk the thin line that separates righteousness from self-righteousness.

Ned Weeks (who, I suppose, stands for Kramer himself) is an angry young man. He is strident, shrill, disagreeable and very very annoying. Kramer himself spent months creating a group that would help raising AIDS awareness. He was also fired from the same group he helped create before he wrote Normal Heart. The play is a damning indictment of everyone in power when the AIDS epidemic began. Like his earlier novel Faggots (which I haven't read yet) , it is also an indictment also of the gay subculture that has separated sexuality from the mind so completely that it was the easiest target for the HIV virus.

The Normal Heart recently had a revival in Chicago where it received a luke-warm reception. The NYT even carried a touching letter in response to their article on the play's closing.

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