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So obviously ‘The Inheritance’ is fairly incredible

Right – so I’ve seen The Inheritance (again) and it’s a pretty astonishing piece of work. The Young Vic’s show of the year: The Inheritance, written by Matthew Lopez and directed by Stephen Daldry, is as close to theatre perfection as it gets.

Is the hype real? Yes, folks.

Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

Theatrically, tonally, politically and conceptually it’s right up there with Tony Kushner’s sprawling Angels in America, and with a brilliant cast including Vanessa Redgrave – the only woman in the play.

This, in a nutshell, is where we begin:

A cosy room. A handful of YOUNG MEN sitting around writing.’

Paul Hilton kicks off Part 1 as Morgan, an embodiment of novelist E.M. Forster educating a group of contemporary privileged gay men in New York, lost in the millennial haze of a generation after the AIDS crisis.

Having a production like this at the Noel Coward Theatre (Broadway next – certainly) is more significant than ever. We are living in a divided world; more than two-thirds of same-sex couples avoid holding hands in public and hate crimes against LGBT people has more than doubled since EU referendum.

These are challenging times.

But this is a play of a lifetime – for the time. Release the doves, it’s finally happened. The Inheritance is a thrilling seven-hour, two-parter E.M. Forster inspired epic of New York gay life. Oh, and it is extremely special. Its theatre in all the right ways, it’s noisy in all the right ways, it’s brash and bombastic and funny and audacious and playful in all the right ways, and it’s smart in all the right ways, too.

Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

Along with the world-class sound by Paul Arditti and Christopher Reid, one of the best things about The Inheritance is Jon Clark’s lighting. It illuminates the stage; the naturalistic suddenly becomes impressionistic. Falling shadows make the darkness itself visible. Light is used not just to show detail, but to hide it.

Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

Part 1, though, has possibly my favourite moments ever spent sat in a theatre. Bob Crowley’s excellent bare wooden set enables the exceptional cast to display constant movement and focussed performances, his minimal design of a moving platform creates a striking azure.

‘We need our community, we need our history. How else can we teach the next generation who they are and how they got here?’ asks the beating heart of the story: Eric Glass– played exquisitely by Kyle Soller – on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, while scene-stealing Andrew Burnap as Toby swaggers as his narcissistic partner. He flutters around gayly in a tight vest and speedos like an exotic bird. He’s also very funny and has cheek bones that could cut glass. Deftly conjoining these two central performances are the breathtakingly simple sequences between them that encapsulates Lopez’s jaggedly tender script; harrowing, heart-breaking, nasty and joyful.

Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

Part 2 is a drama littered with characters living an unfulfilled existence, trapped by the great silence and snappy dialogue that is the true villain of the piece. Having been swept along by Daldry’s vision for a day and night of entertainment, heartbreak and inspiration, Vanessa Redgrave appears as a woman who has lost her son to AIDS. Redgrave, 81, puts on a majestic display of stagecraft full of hypnotic pregnant pauses. By the end of the night, you feel that silence deserves to be broken by tumultuous applause. Which it is.

Everything that I have written about The Inheritance seriously understates the level of theatre sorcery going on here; this is a decadent, astute theatre triumph.

It is addictively binge-worthy and I can’t wait to go back.

N.B. Please note that the amazingness of this cast is indeed dangerous and anybody with an aversion to INCREDIBLE THEATRE should avoid.

The Inheritance is at Noel Coward Theatre until 19 January 2019. Wednesday and Saturday matinee performances. 

Top Show: London – The Inheritance (Pt. 1)