When it debuted on Broadway a quarter-century ago, Angels in America (now at the Neil Simon Theatre through July 1) was immediately stamped with Landmark status by the Dramatic Landmarks Commission. A landmark it remains today: no other play has managed to do what it accomplishes, which is to run five hours too long. A tolerable two-and-a-half hour piece, it wears its seven-and-a-half-hour running time the way a fifth grader wears his father’s suit.

Good writing is ordinarily understood to involve being economical, even ruthlessly parsimonious, with words. Yet the playwright Tony Kushner, who won every prize in sight for this two-part aids play set in 1986 New York City, would have us view his Exxon Valdez–style word spillage as genius. Every time he has a point to make, he repeats and reprises and...

 

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