If you haven’t seen a terrific Broadway drama in forever, then get yourself a ticket to this beautifully acted production of Larry Kramer’s wrenching play about the AIDS epidemic.
Yes, it’s a serious subject, deadly serious. The topic is dark — one man’s desperate war to alert the world to the beginning of the mysterious AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s in New York.
This was ground zero for the beginning of what was known at the time as the “Gay Plague:” Playwright Larry Kramer who is HIV positive was there and became an early, loud and angry advocate for getting the news out in any way that he could, that a dangerous disease was attacking gay men.
He is the lead character, Ned Weeks, in The Normal Heart and the play is based on real people and events that took place in New York through 1984.
Ned/Larry watched with growing horror as more and more men he knew and cared about, both young and old, got sick and ALL died.
But unlike most gay men at the time he didn’t just get frightened, he sprang into action lobbying for media stories about the AIDS plague and lobbying for money to fund an organization to help care for victims.
Meanwhile, he fell in love.
This is the story of his fight and his frustrations. It is a gripping and emotional story.
Ned is played superbly by Joe Mantello with Ellen Barkin, terrific in the role of sympathetic AIDS doctor, Dr. Emma Brookner, who is as angry and frustrated as he is ,by the lack of resources being mobilized against the deathly threat.
I was living in NYC at the time when the word first started seeping out that a deathly illness was killing gay men. But no one knew what was causing it or how to treat it. It was believed to be transferred sexually, but no one knew why some men were becoming ill and not others. And no one understood how long it took to incubate.
All we knew was that suddenly men we knew were sick and dying, including one of my closest friends, Joseph Abreu.
Those who lived through that time will be gripped with remembrances as they watch. And those who are too young to know what the terrifying AIDS epidemic was like will watch with even more shock and horror at how blind eyes were turned while the death count mounted.
Definitely see The Normal Heart!