Tony Kushner's Angels in America employs a technique called split scenes, which is used for a specific purpose. Kushner uses them to parallel scenes of fighting between Joe and Harper along with Prior and Louis. The two couples are in situations that seem to be very different, but, when juxtaposed, reveal a hidden similarity between them. Because of the strategic placement of the scenes together, Kushner allows the viewer to draw equivalencies between these apparently distinct situations. Joe is married to Harper even though he is homosexual. Meanwhile, Harper is a Valium addict who hears things that are not actually there, hallucinates, and is slowly coming to terms with the fact that her husband is homosexual. Prior and Louis are in a homosexual relationship, although Louis has yet to come out to his family. Prior has contracted AIDS and Louis is emotionally weak and unable to stay with Prior through his battle with this gruesome disease. But the split scenes are not limited to these two couples. The split scenes allow Kushner to show the problems between the two people side by side. Neither person is in an ideal situation. Splitting the scene allows the viewer to see the events happen at the same time and compare them. It also gives the audience an idea of real time during a fictitious play. The first split scene in the play is when Harper and Joe are discussing moving to Washington. The audience gets an insight into how far gone Harper is mentally. She is scared of the bedroom because she hears noises and believes it to be men with knives. “There’s something creepy about this place… I heard someone in there. Metal scraping on the wall. A man with a knife, maybe.”(pg.30) They have a dysfunctional relationship in which Harper is “pretend-happy,”(pg.29) which, according to her, is “better than nothing.” The audience also learns that she has no idea how many pills she takes during the day. The other part...
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