Theatre Review: The Inheritance at the Young Vic Theatre

This is a bit of a side step from the usual theatre reviews. Our normal content guidance is by or featuring LBQ women... however the Aids epidemic has affected a large number of the LGBTQ+ community within which we are part, and so it felt right to review and highlight this epic performance. We were delighted that LGBT Poet Laureate, Trudy Howson was able to attend and review for us!

The Inheritance is showing at The Young Vic between 3 March and 19 May 2018.

There was a palpable feel of tension and excitement in the auditorium of the Young Vic theatre, as we waited for the World Premier of Matthew Lopez's play to commence.  A seven-hour, two-part play about the long lasting legacy of the Aids epidemic is pretty hard-core theatre viewing... by anyone’s standards.

"The Inheritance" is an exploration of the lives and experiences of a group of male friends, who live in New York. They are the generation after the Aids Crisis. Its central plot is firmly and cleverly rooted in F M Forster’s novel "Howards End," examining themes of class, shameful secrets, freedom and property.

Indeed, the narrator of the first play is Forster himself, (Paul Hilton) encouraging his pupils to devise the play as it  proceeds. A device that initially, felt rather contrived.

Eric (Kyle Soller) loves wannabe playwright Toby (Andrew Burnap) who leaves him for actor Adam. (Samuel H. Levine) Recovering from his heartbreak Eric falls in love with Henry (John Benjamin Hickey) the widowed partner of his friend Walter, who has, unbeknown to Eric, bequeathed him his beautiful home. Subsequently, Eric and Toby’s lives spirals out of control. Until Eric finally finds himself, and the home he was destined to live in. Kyle Stollers tender portrayal of the vulnerable Eric quickly stole the audience’s heart. Vanessa Redgrave appears, as the only female in the cast, in an accomplished cameo of feisty fragility in part two of the play.

Observing the lives of these characters and their friends became increasingly emotionally compelling. Climaxing in a moving scene at the end of the first play that left myself, and most of the audience in tears.

This was a slick, pacey production directed by Stephen Daldry, enhanced by Bob Crawley’s minimalistic set. The ensemble of actors convincingly portraying a number of different characters.  Syrus Lowe was amusing and engaging as the soon to be disillusioned doctor.

The Inheritance is packed with male camaraderie, conflict and a good dollop of camp. Although, I found this production, particularly some of the speeches, rather too lengthy. With  ‘too much telling and not enough showing. I am certain, even without the benefit of hindsight, that I'll be glad that I saw it. 

This is, without a doubt, an epic, landmark play about an important part of hidden LGBT history. It raises many political and social issues.  One of the most poignant being: that the generation after the AIDS epidemic were essentially orphaned. "A generation of mentors, friends, lovers lost to us" 

It deftly brings into focus, the importance of remembering our history and acknowledging its impact on our present and future. The life enhancing implications, of respecting who and how we are. The necessity of truthfully connecting with each other.  It’s a play about Love Loss and personal conviction.  

I suggest, if you don’t want to feel that you missed out on something special…see it!

The Inheritance is a two-part play.

  • Monday - Saturday: 7.15pm
  • Wednesday & Saturday Matinees: 1:15pm

You can book to see Parts One and Two separately on weekday evenings or see both parts in one day on Wednesdays or Saturdays.  There will be a number of opportunities to see both parts on a single day. Ms Redgrave appears only in Part Two. The Inheritance is a two-part play and is intended to be seen sequentially. However, each part constitutes a complete theater-going experience on its own.

Running times

  • Part 1: 3 hours 15 mins (with 2, 10 min intervals)
  • Part 2: 3 hours 20 mins (with 1, 10 min interval and a 5 min 'pause')

Tickets: £38, £29, £20, £10