Study Guide

Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika Act 3, Scene 3

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Act 3, Scene 3

  • It's later that same day.
  • On stage we see the diorama room at the Mormon Visitors Center.
  • There's a little proscenium theatre with a curtain drawn over it.
  • Behind the curtain there's a classic wagon-train tableau (which the audience can't see yet). In the tableau we see a Mormon family crossing the desert on their way from Missouri to Salt Lake. Ma, two sons, and a daughter are all mannequins, but Pa is actually the actor playing Joe.
  • Harper sits in the nice chairs set up for the little diorama stage. She's chowing down on junk food.
  • Harper's mother-in-law Hannah enters with Prior following her.
  • Hannah seems unhappy with Harper.
  • Hannah tells Prior that she's going to start up the diorama.
  • Prior sits and a voice on tape is heard. The voice welcomes the guests to the Mormon Visitors Center and asks them not to smoke or eat.
  • Suddenly the tape goes crazy – the voice speeds up and slows down incomprehensibly.
  • Harper leans over to Prior, telling him the Center is having trouble with the diorama.
  • She offers him some Doritos.
  • He says they're not supposed to eat in the auditorium.
  • Harper asks him if they've met before.
  • Prior says no, but he seems unsure. (In case you don't remember, these two met in a dream in Millennium Approaches.)
  • Harper tells Prior all about the diorama and how there's a dummy family behind the curtain. She adds that the father looks a whole lot like her husband Joe.
  • Prior asks her if she's a Mormon.
  • "Jack Mormon. [...] Inferior Mormon product," replies Harper (3.3.13).
  • Prior asks if Harper believes in the angel Mormon.
  • Harper corrects him, saying that the angel that supposedly inspired the Mormon religion was named Moroni.
  • Prior tells her he's an angelologist and that an angel crashed through his ceiling.
  • "Huh. That sort of thing always happens to me," says Harper (3.3.27).
  • Prior notes that she looks very familiar. She says it's probably not possible that they've met, since she's spent most of her time "alone, in the dark, waiting for the dummy" (3.3.29).
  • Finally the diorama gets rolling again.
  • Dramatic music plays, and the curtain opens on the tableau depicting the dummy Mormon family crossing the desert.
  • Remember, the actor playing Joe is the father, but the others are mannequins. His mouth moves but not his body. Whenever it's the dummy sons' turns to speak, a spotlight lights up their mouths, which don't move.
  • The Mormon sons are afraid as they cross the vast wilderness.
  • The father tells them to be strong for their mother and little sister.
  • Harper says it's unfair that the female characters don't have any lines.
  • One of the sons asks how long it will be before their journey is over and they reach Zion.
  • The father assures them that it will be soon, "just like the Prophet promised" (3.3.41).
  • Harper pipes in, saying they'll all probably die on the trip.
  • Prior shushes her.
  • One of sons asks if the Promised Land will be nice and if there will be lots of food.
  • Harper says it'll suck – there's a big lake, sure, but it's full of salt.
  • The sons ask the Father to tell the story about the Prophet.
  • The Father starts talking about how the Prophet was young and handsome.
  • In the Prophet's day, there were lots of different churches, and no one was sure which was the right one.
  • Suddenly, as if by magic, Louis appears in the diorama. He spouts a classic Louis line, "OK yeah yeah yeah but then answer me this: How can a fundamentalist theocratic religion function participatorily in a pluralistic secular democracy?" (3.3.52).
  • Louis can't believe that he's spent a month in bed with a Mormon. Joe tells him they should talk about it later.
  • (In case you're confused, this is one of Kushner's patented reality-bending moments. We're in the diorama room, but we're also at the place where Joe and Louis work. The actor playing Joe is playing both his regular character and the Mormon Father.)
  • Prior can't believe what he's seeing. How did Louis get in the diorama?
  • Harper tells him he appears in there every day.
  • Joe kisses Louis.
  • Prior can't take it; he wants the diorama turned off.
  • Louis goes on a little longer about how he's totally uncomfortable with Joe being a Mormon.
  • Prior calls out Louis' name. Louis hears him but can't see him.
  • Louis tells Joe that they really need to talk.
  • Joe says no, but Louis pitches a fit, so they leave together.
  • Harper says, "Well the dummy never left with the little creep, he never left before. When they come in and they see he's gone, they'll blame me" (3.3.79).
  • She gets up and pulls the curtain closed, then sees that Prior is crying. He can't believe he just saw his ex-lover with Harper's husband in the diorama.
  • Hannah enters; she blames Harper for making Prior cry.
  • Hannah goes and opens the curtain. The actor playing Joe is gone, and a real dummy now stands in the place of the Father.
  • Hannah fusses at Harper, telling her she's always making scenes and that she's going to cost her her job at the Mormon Visitors Center.
  • Prior is still freaking out.
  • Harper tells Hannah that Prior saw an angel.
  • "That's his business," says Hannah (3.3.97).
  • Hannah tells Prior he ought to leave and says the diorama is closed, pulling the curtain closed.
  • Hannah exits.
  • Harper tells Prior she's been waiting for the Mormon wife in the diorama to speak, but she never does.
  • They talk about how imagination can be dangerous, and then they seem to suddenly remember the dream they shared back in Millennium Approaches.
  • Harper tells Prior he looks really sick and ought to be in bed.
  • Prior is scared that he'll die there.
  • "Better in bed than on the street," says Harper (3.3.116).
  • Prior leaves.
  • Harper begs the Mormon mother to speak.
  • The Mormon mother comes to life and tells Harper to follow her. They exit together.

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