[Play Review] The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer

The Normal Heart

Larry Kramer

What rating would you give it?
4 of 5 Stars

Breakdown is as follows:

Actual rating is both…
3.75 Stars (mostly due to the unremarkable writing)

and 5 stars (for the incredible, heartbreaking tragedy that can’t even be described as a “story,” for it effected too many lives, brings rage to my heart some thirty years later, and tore apart a man who was simply trying to be the voice of a denied people)

Thus, to be fair, it gets a rounded 4 stars so we’re even.

Give us a summary.

(From Goodreads)
THE NORMAL HEART is the explosive drama about our most terrifying and troubling medical crisis today: the AIDS epidemic. It tells the story of very private lives caught up in the heart-rendering ordeal of suffering and doom – an ordeal that was largely ignored for reasons of politics and majority morality.

Filled with power, anger, and intelligence, Larry Kramer’s riveting play dramatizes what actualy happened from the time of the disease’s discovery to the present, and points a moral j’accuse in many directions. His passionate indictment of government, the media, and the public for refusing to deal with a national plague is electrifying theater – a play that finally breaks through the conspiracy of silence with a shout of stunning impact. As Douglas Watt summed it up in his review for the New York Daily News,THE NORMAL HEART is “an angry, unremitting and gripping piece of political theater. You are bound to come away moved.”

What did you think of this play?

Now, I want to say something about this understandably powerful play – I think… seeing it would have been more beneficial and successful an endeavor than simply reading it. Watching the actors put on the performance of a lifetime and searing into your eyes, your mind, your… very soul the profound impact of a government turning its back on its own people, simply because of their sexuality or social-economic backgrounds. Realizing that had they done something sooner, helped – people sooner… much of the tragedy of AIDS would not have spread so quickly or so staggeringly throughout the U.S.; a country supposedly in the height of First World privilege.

I was über curious about this play from the moment I heard Mark Ruffalo would be making a movie from a play of the same name. I can’t say I ever heard about it prior to that (which – I know – is a tragedy all in itself) but I’m thankful to have been able to read this and have the events through this play now part of my life.

I try not to read books about the HIV-AIDS epidemic (or the horrors of black slavery, or the Holocaust, or native american “relocation”), not because I want to close my eyes to the situation, but because I am too acutely aware of exactly what is going on. Sometimes, to have to relive it again and again in books sometimes more appalling than one might expect, is just too much.

This play has that sort of effect on you. You read it, and suddenly you are there in 1981, and you live through that four year period of utter hell. You see a government… a free, representative democracy, a “by the people, for the people” government…literally fuck everyone over by ignoring the cries of their gay citizens, by refusing to be involved with the gay cancer, by default… aiding in the spread of the disease. The overall writing might have been mediocre, but – let me tell you – the message was loud and clear.

My heart goes out to Ned, who feels like he hasn’t done enough; to Dr. Brookner who’s righteous anger mirrors my own so clearly; to all the men, women, and others of varying genders who suffered because their voices weren’t heard. We hear you. Even if it took thirty years – gods… we hear you.

Does it count towards any reading challenges?

Sure does~ Although it was specifically read for the 2015 Play On Reading Challenge, it also fits these challenges as well:

Would you recommend this book?

ohyeahIf for no other reason than to educate yourself on a topic very often pushed under the rug. As I said before, the writing itself could use some work, but the message definitely outweighs the faults in this one.

So, GET TO IT!

Reviewed by AMS (amomentsilence)

Published: October 29, 1985 (by Plume)
Format: PDF
Pages: 128
Genre & Themes: Play, Theatre, Queer, LGBT,
QUILTBAG, Drama, AIDS epidemic, American
History, Politics, Human Rights, Activism,
Closeted Gays, Morality (Or The Lack Thereof)
Age: Adult
Reviewer: AMS (amomentsilence)
Source: jcc rochester. Click here.
Challenge2015 Good Reads Reading Challenge (79),
52 Books in 52 WeeksYou Read How Many Books?,
Read A Million Pages105 Reading Challenge,
2015 Play On Reading Challenge2015 LGBT Challenge,
2015 New To You Reading Challenge
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