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BWW Review: THE INHERITANCE, Noel Coward Theatre


The InheritanceSet a generation after the AIDS crisis, Matthew Lopez's two-part world premiere (transferring from the Young Vic) checks in with gay men living today. What does love mean in contemporary New York? How do we find our sense of belonging in a city that's so easy to get lost in? A heartbreaker from start to finish, this rare theatrical offering is undoubtedly the production of the century.

The InheritanceBased on EM Forster's novel Howard's End, Lopez takes the themes of love, lust, and belonging and inputs them into this modern-day narrative. Watching his seven-hour epic, expertly directed by Stephen Daldry, resembles binge-watching a favourite TV show. It's an experience that takes you through so many lows and highs - a miraculous sensation of overwhelming emotion.

We begin by seeing an ensemble of young men on stage attempting to write their personal story. In order to assist them in this, and something that is a genius creative decision by Lopez, Forster himself is including in the character list (named Morgan in this instance), a dramaturg who assists in shaping the tale. Paul Hilton plays this historical figure with charm, wit and delicacy.

The main plot drama lies in the relationship between Eric Glass (Kyle Soller) and Toby Darling (Andrew Burnap), who live in a rented apartment on the Upper West Side, one which they're soon to be evicted from. Their seven-year relationship has become stale; Toby no longer needs Eric's security now that his play has been critically acclaimed and is transferring to Broadway.

Following on from their break-up, the pair lead separate lives. Eric becomes an activist turned caregiver; Toby steps further down the destructive path of depression, addiction and dependency. Both are searching for their place in the world and do so with gorgeous performances that make your heart ache.

The rest of the characters are equally as flawed as Lopez lays bare on the table their imperfections. This only draws you closer to them, because they are human and recognisable to what we see in the people we know. However, Lopez never shies away from humour (it can't all be doom and gloom after all); he satirises aspects of contemporary politics to provide such much-needed lightness.

Part One is technically the perfect play, both in performance and creative decisions. Part Two is grittier, has more of an earthy rawness and is a sensory overload from start to finish. At the end of both of them loud snuffles and tears can be heard from the audience - a lot of them came from me.

This really was a remarkable experience, one that I would recommend over and over again to everyone.

The Inheritance at Noel Coward Theatre until 19 January, 2019

Photo credit: Marc Brenner

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