We Love Arts

We Love Arts: The Normal Heart

(L to R) Michael Berresse as Mickey Marcus, Patrick Breen as Ned Weeks, Jon Levenson as Hiram Keebler and Nick Mennell as Bruce Niles in The Normal Heart at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater June 8-July 29, 2012. Photo by Scott Suchman.

The stage is fairly empty, save for some scribbling on the white set – words, shadowy and illegible until the lights come up. Slowly, our eyes adjust and we make out some phrases published by the press in the early 1980s. The first one I can read is damning: “By our silence we have helped murder each other.” Before the first scene of The Normal Heart at Arena Stage comes to a halt, I’ve read the writing on the wall quite literally; and the writing tells me we’re doomed.

The Normal HeartArena Stage‘s nearly flawless production of the 2011 Tony-winning revival – moves with a thunderous pace and makes clear its own immediacy from its first scene to its haunting end. Never stopping to take a breath, the show instead devotes every moment to its characters and their dealings with the AIDS epidemic that began, largely unheeded, in 1981.

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