The play originally ran Off Broadway in 1985 and chronicles the early days of the AIDS crisis in New York City, told mainly from the viewpoint of the author who was one of the founders of the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GHMC) in New York City. It is hard to believe that it was almost exactly thirty years ago when the NY Times ran their first story about the "gay cancer" buried far back in the paper. The Normal Heart begins at that time in the history of the AIDS crisis and for 2 1/2 hours never let's down on it's attack on the apathy of the gay community and the medical establishment and government's unwillingness to do anything to stop it. It is an emotional, profound and moving play, but filled with laughter as well, and I highly recommend it. I also have to believe this is the front runner for this year's Tony for Best Revival of a Play.
The cast that directors Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe have assembled is a pretty stellar one. Joe Mantello is Ned Weeks, the part modeled on Kramer as well as his real life involvement with starting the GMHC. Mantello has the ferocious passion that Kramer was known for and he plays it expertly, never making it feel forced but instead making it more of just another natural part of Ned's personality. He is a volcano, erupting throughout the play and Mantello will definitely find himself with a Tony nomination next week. Mantello is now more known for his directing, including having directed the mega- hit Wicked, but I first saw him act in the original Broadway cast of Angels in America on Broadway, and he was excellent in that. It is nice to see him back on the stage again.