Larry Kramer’s passionate, polemical drama, set during the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.
The Normal Heart traces the story of one man who, while his friends are dying around him, strives to break through a conspiracy of silence, indifference and hostility from public officials and the gay community, and gain recognition for a virus that threatens to change everything.
The play received its British premiere at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1986. Thirty-five years after that premiere, the play’s prescience and its searing emotional power are beyond doubt. It was revived on Broadway in 2011 (winning the Tony Award for Best Revival) and adapted for television in 2014 (receiving the Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie).
This new edition of the play is published alongside a major revival at the National Theatre, London, in 2021, directed by Dominic Cooke. It features the definitive text of the play, extensive supplementary material including a new introduction by critic and broadcaster David Benedict, and tributes to Larry Kramer by Russell T Davies, Tony Kushner and Matthew López, all of whom have also contributed to the canon of dramatic work about HIV/AIDS – with, respectively, It’s A Sin, Angels in America and The Inheritance.
‘Burning, argumentative, witty and contentious play about the political and emotional consequences of the AIDS crisis’
‘Informative, heart-rending, witty, revelatory, poleaxing, a work of utter topicality and transcendent power’
— The Listener
‘An epic piece of reportage’
— The Times
‘[A] shattering evening of theatre’
‘A glorious, wrenching watch… It’s a talky play from an era when things weren’t talked about, with a rock-solid emotional core and a leavening seam of dark humour. It’s terribly, terribly moving’
— Evening Standard
‘Other plays about the period would follow… But they stood on the shoulders of this one. It demands our consideration’
‘Captures the terror, fear, shame and fury of the moment… Kramer’s play is living history, written without the benefit of hindsight, and it remains undimmed by time’
— The Stage