In the New York Times, Frank Rich deemed Tony Kushner's 1993 epic "vast, miraculous" and "the most thrilling American play in years." Angels, subtitled "A Gay Fantasia on National Themes," copped a Tony, a Pulitzer Prize and a Drama Desk award for Best Play but nothing from the Mormons, possibly because it portrays various Saints as bigoted, politically and emotionally compromised and silently screaming to get out of a sexual closet their church doesn't acknowledge. "In my church," a young LDS member named Harper Pitt tells a gay man named Prior Walter, "we don't believe in homosexuals." "In my church," Prior zings back, "we don't believe in Mormons."
Harper's husband Joe, a young Mormon lawyer, has taken on the right-wing potentate and monster Roy Cohn as a mentor. Two gay men, neither willing to admit it (though Cohn has started to die of AIDS-related causes). Joe strikes up a friendship with gay Louis, and soon they are lovers; but though opposites may attract, they're still opposites. Says Louis: "I can't believe I spent three weeks in bed with a Mormon." After a drunken Joe calls his mother Hannah to say he's gay, she sells her Salt Lake City home and heads east to save him, while working as a volunteer in the Mormon Visitors' Center. Joe finally ends his affair by punching Louis during a fight baaaad Mormon. Angels does have its thrilling moments, and the HBO movie directed by Mike Nichols and starring Meryl Streep (Hannah), Mary-Louise Parker (Harper) and Al Pacino (Roy) is a splendid showcase for its actors. But Kushner's plea for compassion toward his fellow gays is compromised by his evident bigotry toward Mormons.