American playwright Matthew Lopez’s astonishing and ambitious play The Inheritance has transferred from the Young Vic to the Noël Coward theatre. Rave reviews confirm its rightful place in the pantheon of great art about sexual identity and the civilising power of culture. Theatre awards are already anticipated.
This brave work is creating a buzz across the capital. It has been hailed as a modern classic.
According to The Times, which awarded it five stars, “It is a love story sturdy enough to hold all the writer’s ideas about individualism and community, and gay identity and AIDS.”
More five-star reviews came from the Evening Standard, which called it “A work of rare grace, truth and beauty”, and WhatsOnStage, which dubbed it “A passionately audacious, entirely successful theatrical epic”.
The two-part, seven-hour work is inspired by EM Forster’s novel Howards End. Both explore the importance of connecting to our cultural past in order to safeguard the future. Lopez does just that by transposing the setting from an Edwardian country house to a family home in Manhattan.
The play has been slightly revised since transferring from the Young Vic. Award-winning director Stephen Daldry’s sparing staging is exceptional. The production is testimony to the power of theatre to engage everyone in a single conversation about society’s urgent need to remember the lessons of the past.
The critically-acclaimed ensemble cast includes Vanessa Redgrave as Margaret, a mother who rejects her son after he contracts the HIV virus. As Dominic Maxwell in The Times explains, the play captivates its audience precisely because its characters “are flawed, fascinating, funny, self-aware and self-destructive in a way more lifelike than theatre normally has the skill or the space to manage”.