★★★★★ | The Inheritance, The Young Vic
It’s a bold move to schedule nearly 7 hours of theatre about the lives of gay men, by a writer who’s largely unknown in the UK and hope that people take a punt on it without fear of boredom or backache. It’s paid off here though, as the run is almost sold out. Maybe the draw is ‘The Crown’ (the director of the plays is Stephen Daldry) or the recent epidemic of boasting about having sat through a day of ‘Angels in America’ at The National. Whatever the reasons, they’ve scored a winner with this two-parter. It’s a magnificently acted and tightly scripted piece of theatre which is both thought-provoking and incredibly moving.
The plays look at the lives of a group of sometimes self-satisfied/dissatisfied and hedonistic/troubled gay men in New York a generation after the AIDS crisis was at its height. Although there’s lots of issues raised it’s also a very entertaining and human piece of character-driven storytelling with moments of wry comedy.
Based directly on E.M. Forster’s ‘Howard’s End’, but with gays, it’s like a fat and occasionally filthy novel and it’s definitely a page-turner. The action is played out on a sparse set by barefoot and occasionally bare bottomed actors and one actress (Vanessa Redgrave pops in for 20 minutes). The concept is that the men are part of a writing group looking at writing their experiences, mentored by the Edwardian author. Bizarrely, this works really well and acts as a perfect backdrop for the action. You can binge watch it like it’s on Netflix or take the DVT free option and see it over two nights. Whichever, it’s worth grabbing one of the few remaining tickets.
Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He’s usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.