THEATRE REVIEW: The Inheritance (Part 1) starring Kyle Soller, Andrew Burnap and Samuel H. Levine

WORTH A LOOK?: *****

WHERE: Young Vic

WHEN: 17/3, press night 28/3 runs to 19/5/18

Author Matthew Lopez writes in the programme of the power of literature – how watching Emma Thompson in Howards End as a 16-year-old changed his life.

  • Read on for reasons including when we will review Part 2 starring Vanessa Redgrave

A decade later he read Maurice and realised that Howards End author E.M. Forster had been gay. Lopez reflected on how he had been touched emotionally years later as a boy growing up gay by a closeted gay man writing in 1910.

The Inheritance is loosely based on Howards End but is much more ambitious. Forster even appears onstage to advise one of the characters about how he should start writing his story.

The cast of a dozen men (Vanessa Redgrave does not appear until Part 2 which we saw in the same day as Part 2 and will review on this site later) sits around a sparse rectangle stage which rises and falls, giving a focus for the action.

We could almost be in the rehearsal room because there is little scenery, costumes are every day modern clothes and it becomes clear that all the young men are barefoot and the older generation wearing shoes.

We meet Eric Glass (Kyle Soller, the emotional centrepoint of the piece) who proposes to his vain author boyfriend Toby Darling (Andrew Burnap, convincingly shallow, infuriating and with a devastating backstory) during sex.

Glass’s growing friendship with the older Walter (Paul Hilton is heartbreaking as both Forster and this character) and we learn about the house in the country outside New York where he looked after countless young men dying during the AIDS epidemic which started in the 80s.

Director Stephen Daldry (Netflix’s The Crown and Billy Elliott) is sitting several rows behind us in the audience andThe Inheritance reminds us of the theatrical equivalent of a boxset that is best devoured in one sitting.

We laugh at a lot of Lopez’s reflections on the shallowness of current gay life, given stark counterpoint by Forster’s appearance and his inability to live and love as he would like during a period in time that was far less friendly to him than to Toby Darling and his peers.

Special mention to Levine who comes into his own in Part 2 playing multiple characters as does Luke Thallon (nominated for an Evening Standard Emerging Talent Award for the overrated Albion at the Almeida).

We’ll review Part 2 later on this site but were left in unexpected tears at the moving end of a wildly ambitious and uproarious Part 1 that contains some of the best new writing we’ve seen in any theatre this year.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Young Vic. Tickets
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