I had been looking forward to Matthew Lopez's much acclaimed two-part play The Inheritance (Noel Coward Theatre), directed by Stephen Daldry, but in the event it proved to be a major disappointment.
The play, which transposes EM Forster's novel Howard's End to 21st century New York, documents the experiences of a generation of gay men who came of age in the years after Aids ravaged their community. The story being told is that of Eric Glass (Kyle Soller), his preening boyfriend Tony Darling (Andrew Burnap) and their circle of friends. Property and money are they key influences in the decisions the characters make. Kind, idealistic lawyer Glass knows he will soon have to move out of his family's rent-controlled apartment, while Darling who has just written his first novel and is adapting it for the stage, had a difficult upbringing and craves emotional and financial stability. Their relationship is complicated by the arrival in their lives of young would-be actor Adam (Samual H Levine), not to mention Eric's growing friendship with Walter (Paul Hilton), an older ailing gay man, who has been with his stupendously wealthy partner Henry Wilcox for three years.
This is a static drama that occasionally opens into ideological debate – pitting assimilation against appropriation, and asking whether social and economic liberalism are intractable. However, at a running time of over seven hours, in which we see communities dwindle and friendships splinter and split, the piece is grossly overlong, not helped by a lack of involvement with the characters, despite good performances from an ensemble cast.
The play, furthermore, has the misfortune to follow in the footsteps of the much superior drama on the same subject matter, Angels in America, which was revived in a first-rate production at the National a year ago.
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Last modified: April 7, 2021