One of the things I like about living in New York is that even when the city just doesn’t feel like it does in the movies, you’ll still get larger-than-life moments when you least expect them.
This happened last week when I went to see a play called The Normal Heart, written by Larry Kramer and originally performed in 1985 as an Off-Broadway production at The Public Theater. I bought a ticket after a family friend told me it was “really, really great.” I thought it was going to be a lighthearted show, as I often find it difficult to attribute the adjective “great” to something that’s very heavy in nature. (Case Study #47: Many people I know have told me Blue Valentine is “a great film,” but I wouldn’t characterize my experience watching it as “great.” I’d say it hurts to watch it because it punches you in the gut with raw emotion.) But instead I was a part of something bigger, an experience and a lesson in, among many things, the plague called AIDS.
Before I say too much, I’d like to include a few lines from the letter Larry Kramer passes out to audience members at the end of the show. I think he’d want you to go see the show and then read the letter in full after the curtain falls:
Please know that AIDS is a worldwide plague. Please know that no country in the world, including this one, especially this one, has ever called it a plague, or acknowledge it as a plague, or dealt with it as a plague. Please know that there is no cure.
When people ask me why I write I tell them it’s because I’m confused and angry about things. Seeing The Normal Heart illuminated my anger over the fact that nobody ever taught me about AIDS with enough seriousness as to ingrain it in my consciousness. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. I have many issues with Glee (Case Study #48: How could Kurt and Rachel just bypass an usher in a Broadway theater and sing on stage without getting in trouble? And who the heck was operating the lights?!), but while watching Kurt’s dad tell his naïve high schooler that sex has serious consequences on your emotional and physical health, I couldn’t help but wish that someone had had that conversation with me with when I, too, was a naïve high schooler who believed he was invincible.
Now go see the show, and tell others to do the same. You’ll all be better for it.
Not convinced yet? Watch this video with the cast. You’ll see some familiar TV faces.
The Normal Heart (John Golden Theater) www.TheNormalHeartBroadway.com
Written by Larry Kramer
Directed by Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe
Cast: Joe Mantello, Ellen Barkin, John Benjamin Hickey, Patrick Breen, Luke MacFarlane, Lee Pace, Jim Parsons, Mark Harelik, Richard Topol, Wayne Wilcox
Scheduled to run through July 10th.