The title (a made up word) means a state of mind where we can either destroy or liberate ourselves, a state of ‘limbo’, a state of grace you could get to after a mental/emotional journey which has stripped you bare.
When the playwright had the idea for ANGELSTATE, the USA government was carrying out medical research on drugs extracting ‘truth’ from political prisoners and soon later, on drugs ‘eliminating guilt’ from war veterans, known to suffer post-traumatic stress syndrome. It was those two experiments that framed her play, alongside the idea of panopticon, a prison or state of affairs of constant, inescapable surveillance.
The playwright wanted to explore this in the context of different kinds of love (sexual, filial, spiritual), especially the kind of love which through extreme protectiveness/possessiveness, can lead to surveillance/suffocation, even death … Common themes for all six characters are therefore their relation to love, death and the body: fascination, obsession, desire, repulsion, fear, denial, annihilation.
The six characters have been detained in order to be questioned about deaths they were involved in, directly or indirectly. At the very beginning of the play they are all in a state of denial. Ideal material for this research. In exchange of regular court/possible prison sentences, the characters are persuaded to undertake these experiments. They are guinea pigs in other words but benefits may follow.
The three hard core professionals – Dominatrix, Mercenary and Bodyguard – do benefit from the experiment and survive, in that they undergo a certain change which will help them better re-adjust to society. The Anorexic is doomed to forever play the same game with herself, life, others. She will never recover. She is so submerged into her own reality, guilt, fear and denial, they have become ‘home’. All else is bound to not reach her. Hence the experiment fails with her. The Priest and the Bodybuilder, are the only ones with ‘soul’ ultimately. The ones who accept their responsibility/guilt and do not want it erased. They test the limits of the experiment to the maximum. A higher dose of the drug would kill them. The drug/experiment fails with them. Human spirit wins. These two characters do not want survival/comfort/re-adjustment but catharsis. They are the ones who can achieve a state of grace, Angelstate.