The ma­jor two-part LGBTQ mas­ter­piece makes its West End pre­miere this Oc­to­ber.

Gay Times Magazine - - CULTURE - Im­ages Tris­tram Ken­ton Words David Wil­liams

De­scribed as “per­haps the most im­por­tant Amer­i­can play of the cen­tury so far” (The Tele­graph), Matthew Lopez’s ma­jor two-part drama, The In­her­i­tance, trans­fers to the West End fol­low­ing its sold-out run at The Young Vic.

Span­ning gen­er­a­tions and count­less in­ter­link­ing lives, The In­her­i­tance bril­liantly trans­poses E.M. Forster’s novel Howards End to 21st cen­tury New York in an achingly ten­der crit­i­cally-ac­claimed two-part drama. Which can be seen ei­ther in one day or over two evenings.

It cov­ers the whole gamut of gay men’s lives from bath­houses to mar­riage equal­ity and adop­tion, ques­tion­ing the co-op­tion of our com­mu­nity into a main­stream that may be rob­bing us of our spe­cial­ness, re­mem­ber­ing bat­tles fought that should never be for­got­ten and high­light­ing lessons that dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions should learn from each other.

The chief pro­tag­o­nist across both parts is Eric Glass, an ideas man who can’t just coast through New York gay life the way many of his friends can. His fi­ancee, an ego­ma­niac of a writer with the fab­u­lous name of Toby Dar­ling, is also his po­lar op­po­site with odi­ous traits.

Ques­tion­ing what it is like to be a young gay man in New York a gen­er­a­tion after the peak of the AIDs epidemic? What does it mean to stand on the shoul­ders of those who have come be­fore you? What is owed to the fu­ture and the peo­ple around you? And how many words are there for pain and for love?

The ma­jor­ity of the orig­i­nal large en­sem­ble Young Vic cast will trans­fer with the pro­duc­tion, in­clud­ing: Hugo Bolton, Robert Boul­ter, An­drew Bur­nap, Hu­bert Bur­ton, John Ben­jamin Hickey, Paul Hil­ton, Sa­muel H. Levine, Syrus Lowe, Michael Mar­cus, Vanessa Red­grave, Kyle Soller and Michael Wal­ters.

“It took me a while to fig­ure out why I wrote the play,” ex­plains writer Lopez. “Be­ing a gay man was both the most joy­ful thing that hap­pened to me and also the most trau­matic thing that hap­pened to me – be­ing told that who I was was risk­ing death and that sex was never go­ing to be some­thing purely plea­sur­able but would al­ways carry with it a twinge of mor­tal dan­ger. I needed to deal with the trauma, to face it and un­der­stand it, in or­der to live in the joy.

“It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber what hap­pened to us and what was al­lowed to hap­pen to us and what our com­mu­nity did in re­sponse to it. We de­cided as a com­mu­nity, with our al­lies, that we would not be left to die – that we would save our own lives. With any luck, there will not be an­other calamity such as the calamity faced by gay men in the 80s and early 90s, but there will al­ways be an­other calamity. Life is the si­lence be­tween the chaos.”

This pro­duc­tion is po­etic, naughty and un­miss­able. The In­her­i­tance runs at the Noel Cow­ard Theatre from 21st.

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