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Review: THE INHERITANCE PART 2 at ZACH

Review: THE INHERITANCE PART 2 at ZACH

Only Connect

We returned this week for Part 2 of ZACH's production of THE INHERITANCE. As I sat ensconced as comfortably as possible in my seat for Part 2, I felt the warmth of familiarity with the characters I'd come to know from Part 1 and thought to myself how lovely a well written serial piece might go over in the world of live theatre. It's an investment, there are many reasons it wouldn't work, and as the history of theatre has shown us, the rare six hour production had best be epic. This was true of ANGELS IN AMERICA, but it's not always the case with Lopez's THE INHERITANCE.

This is a likable and well executed production. Part 2 seemed to give me a better chance to understand and engage with the characters. In Part 1, the struggle to deeply engage seems to lie in Lopez's novelistic approach, and it kept me from going where the actors were trying to take us. While this device remains evident in Part 2, Lopez fleshes out the characters, reveals their motivations, and gives us backstory that drew me in more fully than in Part 1. It also helped that I was looking forward to seeing characters I felt I already knew.

To recap: We're in the middle of a play about a group of 30-something gay men who are all writing their own stories in Part 1. The spirit of E.M. Forster (a wonderful Peter Frechette) helps them in this part, and while he takes a backseat in Part 2, his presence is still felt. Judging by their reaction to his appearance the night I attended, Frechette is indeed a delightful treat for the audience. I agree wholeheartedly. We continue to follow Eric (Christopher Joel Onken) and his (now ex) boyfriend Toby (Jake Roberson) as they move toward separate futures with varying degrees of success. We learn more about Walter Poole (also Frechette) and Henry Wilcox (Scott Galbreath), the wealthy, conservative Republican partner of Walter, who, after Walter's death, develops a relationship with Eric and marries him. A young Henry (Tyler Hecht) and young Walter (Jackson Janowicz) are highlighted. Adam, (Brenden Kyle MacDonald) the star of Toby's play, finds success on Broadway while Toby and his Adam-look-alike-love-interest Leo (also MacDonald) careen toward demise. Eric's friend Tristan (Kriston Woodreaux) leaves the country and moves to Canada, escaping a United States that no longer feels like his home.


THE INHERITANCE PART 2 shifts from a touching story linking the tragic and courageous gay men who paved the way for these privileged (and they are privileged) men of the 21st century, and becomes a likeable bingeable soap opera of a sequel. While much of Part 2 seems indulgent, it does give actors who served as the Chorus in Part 1, to show us why they're here. We are treated to Hecht and Janowicz as the darling Young Henry and Walter. Janowicz does some hilarious scenery chewing as Tucker. Lopez shows us Henry's rage in Part 2, and Galbreath embodies him with great ease. And our leads Brendan Kyle MacDonald, Christopher Joel Onken, and Jake Roberson, continue to engross us in Leo, Eric, and Toby's stories.


There is a powerful exception to the twisting but entertaining digressions late in Part 2. The appearance of Margaret (Libby Villari), the caretaker of Walter's upstate home and mother to one of the dying young men he cared for, puts a bittersweet bookend on the overarching point that Lopez takes from Forster's Howards End. Only Connect.


While this line is given to another character as the play concludes, Margaret seems indeed the force that embodies it. In Forster's own words, "Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer."
THE INHERITANCE PART 2, if half of a wildly sprawling piece of theatre, is part of a play for our time. ZACH rarely disappoints in professional execution of a production, and this show is no exception. This is a play dedicated to gay men and the space they take up in our collective human family. And that is worthy of attention. I encourage you to connect with it.

THE INHERITANCE PART 2

by Matthew Lopez

Directed by Dave Steakley

ZACH Kleburg Theatre

202 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

Through October 9th

Tickets available here




From This Author - Joni Lorraine


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September 23, 2022

We returned this week for Part 2 of ZACH's production of THE INHERITANCE. As I sat ensconced as comfortably as possible in my seat for Part 2, I felt the warmth of familiarity with the characters I'd come to know from Part 1 and thought to myself how lovely a well written serial piece might go over in the world of live theatre. It's an investment, there are many reasons it wouldn't work, and as the history of theatre has shown us, the rare six hour production had best be epic. This was true of ANGELS IN AMERICA, but it's not always the case with Lopez's THE INHERITANCE.