It’s taken me a while to write out my thoughts on The Inheritance play. I think when a ton of people say something is so brilliant and it is, it still makes you wary of being another of those many people to say it.
My initial reaction was oh, how did this even get made, it’s about writing. And it is that. At least that’s how it starts. But very soon it becomes something else. It’s funny, poignant, moving and emotional. It’s about gay lives, but actually, in many ways, it’s about all our lives.
The play opens with a writer trying to work on his next project. In the script they are simply called Man 1, Man 2 etc… but they soon develop character names. I’d forgotten when I saw part 1 that it was kind of Howards End, and EM Forster was one of the characters. This is where it becomes special – and enchanting.
The story focus’ on Toby Darling, and his boyfriend Eric Glass. We watch their lives unfold, and I think the reason it’s been a hit, is if you really think about plays or films about gay lives, there aren’t that many good ones. So that this is better than good, makes it a must see, and as a writer it’s something I aspire to.
The extensive 2 part play (6hrs 35mins total) fills in some of the gaps missed out in Angels In America. It’s an incredibly positive portrayal of gay lives, of gay men living (and not living) with HIV & Aids, and it’s all weaved in through E M Forster’s Howard’s End, along with Maurice as another major influence. But despite that, or even because of it, it’s something truly original.
Covering time, we watch as the gay men watch the Clinton V Trump election unfold, as their optimism wanes, and as their fears are confirmed. This in fact mirrors a lot of the play. We see their highs and lows, their best times and their worst. We see how they meet, get engaged and split up, how they interact with all their friends.
The reason it works so well is that it’s all the things people have said about it. It flows and examines our lives, loves and losses. It’s relatable to people of almost any age. It shines a light through a microscope of how we live. Both in the past and in the present. It’s stunning, and I wish it could run in a theatre forever.
The Inheritance is on at London’s Noel Coward Theatre until 19th January. Written by Matthew Lopez & Directed by Stephen Daldry.