‘The Inheritance’ Review

THE INHERITANCE     Young Vic Theatre 3rd Mar-19thMay

There was a palpable feel of tension and excitement in the auditorium of the Young Vic theatre, as we waited for the World Premier of Matthew Lopez’s play to commence.  A seven-hour, two-part play about the long lasting legacy of the Aids epidemic is pretty hard-core theatre viewing… by anyone’s standards.

“The Inheritance” is an exploration of the lives and experiences of a group of male friends, who live in New York. They are the generation after the Aids Crisis. Its central plot is firmly and cleverly rooted in F M Forster’s novel “Howards End,” examining themes of class, shameful secrets, freedom and property.

Indeed, the narrator of the first play is Forster himself (Paul Hilton), encouraging his pupils to devise the play as it  proceeds. A device that initially, felt rather contrived.

Eric (Kyle Soller) loves wannabe playwright Toby (Andrew Burnap) who leaves him for actor Adam. (Samuel H. Levine) Recovering from his heartbreak Eric falls in love with Henry (John Benjamin Hickey) the widowed partner of his friend Walter, who has, unbeknown to Eric, bequeathed him his beautiful home. Subsequently, Eric and Toby’s lives spirals out of control. Until Eric finally finds himself, and the home he was destined to live in. Kyle Stollers tender portrayal of the vulnerable Eric quickly stole the audience’s heart. Vanessa Redgrave appears, as the only female in the cast, in an accomplished cameo of feisty fragility in part two of the play.

Observing the lives of these characters and their friends became increasingly emotionally compelling. Climaxing in a moving scene at the end of the first play, it left myself, and most of the audience in tears.

This was a slickly paced production directed by Stephen Daldry, enhanced by Bob Crawley’s minimalistic set. The ensemble of actors convincingly portraying a number of different characters.  Syrus Lowe was amusing and engaging as the soon-to-be-disillusioned doctor.

The Inheritance is packed with male camaraderie, conflict and a good dollop of camp. Although I found this production, and particularly some of the speeches, rather too lengthy, with  ‘too much telling and not enough showing, I am certain, even without the benefit of hindsight, that I’ll be glad that I saw it.

This is, without a doubt, an epic, landmark play about an important part of hidden LGBT history. It raises many political and social issues, one of the most poignant being that the generation after the AIDS epidemic were essentially orphaned – “A generation of mentors, friends, lovers lost to us”.

It deftly brings into focus the importance of remembering our history and acknowledging its impact on our present and future. The life enhancing implications of respecting who and how we are. The necessity of truthfully connecting with each other.  It’s a play about Love, loss and personal conviction.

I suggest if you don’t want to feel that you missed out on something special…see it!

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