During the 2011 revival of “The Normal Heart” on Broadway, playwright-provocateur Larry Kramer stood on the sidewalk outside of the Golden Theatre handing out copies of a letter he’d written. The letter contained a litany of facts about AIDS in America today, information meant to disabuse theatergoers of any false sense of security that the ravages of the disease were no longer a threat.

“Please know that AIDS is a worldwide plague,” Kramer wrote. “Please know that no country in the world, including this one, especially this one, has ever called it a plague, or acknowledged it as a plague, or dealt with it as a plague. Please know that there is no cure.”

Kramer’s apocalyptic sense of urgency about the AIDS crisis, which was as much a public health crisis as a crisis of moral failure on a massive scale, has not faded one iota since he penned “The Normal Heart” in the midst of the HIV/AIDS outbreak in the early 1980s. The show, a local production of which opens in the Buffalo United Artists Theatre (119 Chippewa St.) on Friday night, was forged in the crucible of that movement and contains all its boiling rage, its terror, its sadness and its incremental triumphs. It is, for all the polemic bluster and seeming dramatic excesses it contains, one of the best pieces of literature written about the fight for survival in an indifferent and often vindictive time and place. This production, directed by Javier Bustillos, stars Brant Adamczyk, Kevin Craig, Kurt Erb, Timothy Patrick Finnegan, Dave Hayes, Matthew Crehan Higgins, James Mikula, Michael Seitz and Caitlin Coleman. Tickets are $15 to $25. Call 886-9239 or visit

– Colin Dabkowski