While the idea of sitting through 7 hours of theatre may seem daunting, it’s important to note that each part of The Inheritance is a self-contained play, i.e., you can technically see one without seeing the other. If you are determined to only see one of the plays, I highly recommend that it is Part 1, however, I recommend more strongly that you see both.
Following a highly successful run at The Young Vic theatre, Matthew Lopez’s two-part, seven-and-a-half-hour play The Inheritance transferred to the Noël Coward Theatre in London’s glittering West End – and rightly so. This is a play that should have a permanent feature in London’s theatre landscape; in every city’s theatre landscape, in fact. This is a play that will make you laugh, move you to tears and teach you about the harrowing events that the LGBTQ+ community has survived, as well as the issues still facing the community today. I would go as far as to say that this is not merely a play; it is far more profound, far more transcendent. It is, in short, the epitome of what theatre should be.
Matthew Lopez’s writing is nothing short of genius. From hilarious quips and quick wit to poignant monologues and graphic accounts of sexual experiences, there is no line without purpose, no word wasted, and not a single fault to be found in this script. The production, masterfully directed by Stephen Daldry, is staged with practically no set and very few props, yet every scene is bursting with such vivid descriptions that it comes to life right in front of you, without the need for assistance from physical objects or sets. What Lopez does with flawless precision, though, is create humans: his are not just characters in a play, they are men who are complex and conflicted, and who yearn for a place in this world, just as any other person does. From the inherently kind-hearted Eric Glass (played by Kyle Soller) to the deeply damaged Toby Darling, child of privilege (played by Andrew Burnap), you’ll become whole-heartedly invested in every character and the stories they have to share.
Each cast member deserves recognition for their incredible performances. Even the characters with the shortest stage time are wholly entrancing, which only serves as a demonstration of the incomparable talent of this cast. However, it would be impossible for me to not mention Samuel H. Levine, who plays both the well-off actor, Adam, and the young rent boy, Leo, who’s story was one of the most captivating features of the play. Also deserving a special mention is Paul Hilton, who doubles as E.M. Forster (Morgan), upon whose work this play comes to fruition, and as Walter, perhaps the most remarkable of the characters. Both actors are, quite frankly, too remarkable for words.
I could write endlessly about these plays, trying, and probably failing, to explain in any comprehensible way just how thought-provoking, triumphant, moving and profound they are. In truth, I cannot recommend them enough and I cannot praise them enough – nor could anybody else for that matter. All I can really say is: when you see them, you’ll understand.
Don’t miss out on The Inheritance at the Noël Coward Theatre until January 19th 2019!