It addresses a writer named Ned Weeks as he nurses his lover who is dying of an unnamed disease, the doctors puzzled and frustrated by having no resources to research it, and the unnamed organization Weeks is involved in and is eventually thrown out of. Kramer later explained, "I tried to make Ned Weeks as obnoxious as I could ... I was trying, somehow and again, to atone for my own behavior." The experience was overwhelmingly emotional for Kramer, as at one time during rehearsals he watched actor Brad Davis hold his dying lover on stage; Kramer went into the bathroom and sobbed, only moments later to find Davis holding him. The play is considered a literary landmark. It contended with the AIDS crisis when few would speak of the disease afflicting gay men, including gays themselves; it remains the longest-running play ever staged at the Public Theater, running for a year starting in 1985. It has been produced over 600 times in the U.S., Europe (where it was televised in Poland), Israel, and South Africa. Actors following Davis who portrayed Kramer's alter ego Ned Weeks included Joel Grey, Richard Dreyfuss (in Los Angeles), Martin Sheen (at the Royal Court in London), Tom Hulce and then John Shea in the West End, and most recently Raul Esparza in a highly acclaimed revival at the Public Theater. Upon seeing the production of The Normal Heart, Naomi Wolf commented, "No one else on the left at that time...ever used the moral framework that is so much a part of Kramer's voice, and that the right has coopted so skillfully. Conscience, responsibility, calling; truth and lies, clarity of purpose or abandonment of one's moral calling; loyalty and betrayal...."